Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's for dinner... in July?

This is neither here nor there; but I didn't stuff myself at dinner tonite like I usually do, so I'm actually a little hungry 6 hours later as I'm about to go to bed... and therefore thinking about food. And consequently, obviously, about our Disney Cruise.

Less than 50 days from now we'll be on our flight to Spain; and while I'm so excited about the ports, the Vatican, the Mediterranean wines, and the princesses for Lilly, I am suddenly excited about the food. And not just the pizza in Naples that I've been dreaming about.

I'm one of those people who just seems to like Disney food - I think it's good at the counter service in the parks, and even better at the sit down restaurants. And now, tonite, remembering our last (and only) prior cruise 18 months ago, it hit me: I loved the Disney Cruise food too!

Because, I'm a vegetarian. A no seafood, no chicken, no exceptions kind of vegetarian. And most times when I go out to eat, there's one option. Maybe two, if you count a salad. Occasionally, there are no options on the menu at a resaurant, and I have to talk to the waiter and occasionally the chef about what I can possibly eat.

But - I was surprised and impressed on our last Disney Cruise that there were not just one vegetarian option on the main entrees - but two. Usually at least two appetizers/salads and two main courses that I could choose between to eat - and every night the menu's changed (as did the restaurants) so I had such a wide variety. Seriously, this isn't normal, but it was definitely good. And they weren't the standard "penne pasta with marinara" options - they were creative, interesting, tasty meals.

So as I lay me down to sleep and my stomach is slightly growling, I will dream of the food that I will soon consume in July... not too far away! (Now if I can only stop myself from eating too much food between now and then so I can confidently wear a bathing suit on the cruise!)

Sunday, May 29, 2011


Some days it feels like there's just a little too much going on.

I went back to work a few ago - part time - but really, full time when you think about it - Lilly's in school about 25 hours a week and I'm working about 25 hours a week. So, not much time leftover. Which makes the extra tasks - grocery shopping, laundry, showering, thinking - extended into the extra hours in the day. Luckily the work itself is ideal - it's exactly what I was doing before, except on a limited scale (which makes me happy that I won't miss Washington legislation this year) so there's no learning curve involved here - I like what I'm doing and I'm good at it (I think). But, the hardship is taking what I've done in the past 6 months - making the family the number one priority - and reshaking the balance a tiny bit to fit it all in again. It's not bad, but it's just an adjustment - meals aren't always homemade, house isn't always clean, Jon's picking up things from the store a little more often - but it's all doable. And I feel lucky that I get to balance the work I love with the family I love.

So if that were that, it wouldn't be too much. But the rest of "life" is overextending us, I think.

When I say we live like tourists, this is what I mean: we are living very transitionally. Because we've moved every year for 4 years, we haven't had any pictures on our walls in years. Our furniture for two of the four years has been temporary furniture (because it's almost as hard to bring furniture into Manhattan as it is to New Zealand). Friends have been even harder to come by - although we've been somewhat lucky at times - but for the most part, weekends are filled with us finding things to do to entertain ourselves. Like tourists.

(One thing that Jon pointed out to me some time ago - was that it's just as hard to entertain a little kid at home as it is out - and, he'd rather be out. So, there we go.)

This weekend, for example. I was busy Saturday organizing pictures (I'm in the process of sorting through about 10,000 moments of Lilly's live and it's exhausting!). So that's a process in itself; but I promised myself when I stopped working that I would finally get photo albums and baby books made for Lilly (and going back to work is not an excuse!). We're about to move for the last time in a month, Lilly is about to turn 5 in a month; it's time we had some pictures of her life printed out.

Meanwhile, Jon Sherman took his beautiful daughter out for the day. Like tourists, they went all over the city - multiple parks, carousel, the Intrepid for a Fleet Week event (they caught the cast of Wicked singing), and scored last minute tickets to Mary Poppins (Lilly's 3rd time this year).

Today, I am still uploading miscellanous pictures to snapfish (that I discovered had previously gone missing in yesterday's organization). But that didn't stop us from jumping on the F train down through Brooklyn to Coney Island. Of course. Lilly played in the sand with two little girls who spoke no English (I believe they were actually Italian tourists, which is prepping her for her Italian adventure in July, right?). She loved building castles. Then we went on the huge ferris wheel, and a bunch of "kiddie" rides that were so intense that we could barely handle them.

Afterwards, we came back uptown so Jon could go to softball practice, Lilly took a mini nap, and I made dinner - a healthy meal of whole wheat pasta, tomato sauce from Italy, and sauteed onions, asparagus, red peppers, and carrots. I even took the vegetables and pureed them into the sauce for Lilly's portion, so she got an extra boost of vegetables. So, being super mom is also on my plate.

So we're exhausted. A normal family after all this excitement would chill out and relax.

So why are we, tomorrow morning at 6:30 am, getting in a taxi headed for Penn Station to get on a train that will take us to Sesame Place - the Sesame Street theme park? Because we have nothing better to do, apparently, and Lilly can hang out with her cousin Matthew amongst all the other preschoolers in the Northeast.

And in the next few weeks, we will be busy packing for our move in just one month, getting ready to celebrate Lilly's birthday (no big party this year - just tickets for 10 to Mamma Mia on Broadway, of course), celebrating my best friend's wedding in Atlanta, finishing up the school year for Lilly and Jon's job here, and moving into our new house. And, apparently, sorting through a gamillion pictures of Miss Lilly Lou - which is harder than it seems, because she is just so adorable in each one, and every single picture I look at, I remember the background story, and take a minute to appreciate every part of who that little girl is. I love her so much, and am so glad we've had such great adventures over the past 5 years.

While July will bring on it's own busy-ness, I look forward to the "only" thing that we have to do is settle in and settle down for the first few weeks. Get to know the neighborhood because DC will be our home for good (hopefully!). And two weeks after that, really relax - as only we can - with our European adventure.

And after that, life. While we can still do touristy things, I'm hoping in theory we'll do more play dates. More time hanging out at the pool. (Note to self: find a local pool.) More time looking through our photo albums that memorialize the past 5 years, remembering how amazing our times have been, but enjoying that we can finally just live our lives.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vatican tickets - check!

I can't ever tell if we're interesting or silly.

Who in the world books a trip to Europe with a (soon to be) 5 year old? Who thinks it's a good idea to spend 2 weeks with 2 long 8 hour flights (and two connecting flights and 3 hour layovers each way), 3 days in Barcelona, a 10 night cruise, days spent in Malta, Sicily, Naples, Rome, the Italian and French Rivieras, and Corsica? Insanity, right?

Last night late I prebooked our tickets into the Vatican. Who does that? We are treating ourselves to see the coolest sights and bringing our curious fun-loving daughter along for the ride. I mean, people do it - but not people we know, usually.

As I hit "submit" to a phrase in Italian that I'm still hoping translates to "Vatican tickets," I thought of my Grandma. Lillian Gembecki, whom Miss Lillian Grace Sherman is named after. And how religious she was, and how cool I think she would think it is to go see the center of Catholicism. In a way, by going there and taking Miss Lilly, I feel like I'm honoring her a little bit, and my heritage.

So the hardships of traveling internationally with a young one are far outweighed by the excitement - we've done it before - and it'll be crazy and fun and mostly, memorable. Less than 2 months until we leave! Can't wait to literally show my girl the world.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


One of the things I love the most about Lilly - and she gets it from her daddy, not from me - is her total passion for the unexpected. She is willing to do anything, no fear, total enjoyment, with a complete appreciation for life.

Two nights ago, I put her to bed at 7, as her normal routine now that she doesn't nap. (She sleeps until 7 am usually, thank goodness!)

At 10 pm, Lilly came sleepily walking out of her room. She could have been ready to go back to sleep - I'm not sure what made her wake up - but Jon and I had just turned on the Dancing with the Stars finale on Tivo. So, we invited her to sit down with us.

I've never seen anyone so appreciative of such an event (besides Lilly watching last season's finale with Jennifer Grey, who Lilly adores!). She was captivated, clapping for each dancer, picking who she thought would win, being the best tv companion I've ever had. (Proof? Jon fell asleep halfway through.)

An hour later, we put her to sleep after she "woohoo"ed herself to exhaustion; after she danced along with the "Stars"; after she told us she loved us in a way that showed me - who cares about that hour of sleep she missed, we had the time of our lives.

This is why I love my girl so much. Whether it's staying up late for a show, or appreciating a parade at Disney World, or going for a horse and carriage ride in Central Park, she doesn't take it for granted. She knows life's moments are so precious. And she makes me so proud to be her mom.

--- And speaking of Lilly and bedtime - that same night when I put her to sleep at 7, she said her nighttime prayers. And I talked to her a little bit more about God, and how much He loves us, and how we should be so thankful to Him. And I said to Lilly, "Do you know where God is? He is in the sky, always watching over us." And my clever daughter said: "Like Mary Poppins?" Such a cutie. Then, last night, when we were saying our prayers again, I asked Lilly: "Do you remember where God is?" And Miss Lulu said: "He's in the sky. Like airplanes and Mary Poppins." :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Close Calls

Did you know that when Lilly was just a few hours old, the nurses at the hospital were giving her a bath and she turned blue? They immediately gave her oxygen, which she'd breathe in for the next 3 weeks, and called the pediatrician and cardiologist. The pediatrician burst into our room at like 2 or 3 in the morning - just a couple hours after I gave birth to my girl. Jon ran out of the room behind him, and for the next 10 minutes I sat there, crying, praying, not knowing if my little baby girl would die before I could hold her again.

I called the nurses station and told them I was getting up, I needed to see my baby. At some point either I or a nurse pulled out my IV and I ran down the hall. Running to see my girl, to see if she was ok, to see if she'd be all better just by seeing her mommy.

We were half prepared for the DS diagnosis; so that didn't bother us one bit. I could easily love that little sweetheart no matter what. But the medical stuff - the fear that we might lose her before she really got to know us - that was the hardest part.

3 weeks later, she was off the oxygen and was our normal little baby. When you almost lose the person you love the most, the bond that forms is indescribeable. It is what makes me want to spoil her and love her and give her everything and give up my own life for hers if I had to.

In the past 4 years, we've had additional close calls. The time Jon lifted her into the ceiling fan. The two times she ended up in the hospital for pneumonia/RSV/croup variations. The time she passed out from heat in Fiji and hit her head on the pavement. A tonsil surgery and the resulting dehydration a week later. A heart surgery that we were so scared about. Many nights when she was a year and half when she could barely breathe from asthma - with nebulizers going and sitting in the steamy bathroom for hours and standing outside in 30 degree weather, begging Lilly to catch a breath.

And Sunday night, after the best performance I'd ever seen with Miss Lilly being the cutest gummy bear ever - when we were walking home and I was holding Lilly plus a few other things and for some reason I just tripped and fell down and Lilly's head hit the ground. Oh my God, I was so terrified. What if she wasn't ok. She started crying right away - which to me is a good sign that she didn't pass out - and 5 minutes later we were upstairs and she was sitting on the potty, seemingly ok. As I held her and said "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry." I don't even know what happened to make us fall, but I felt horrible. She got off the potty a minute later and turned on "Camp Rock" and started singing and dancing, as I thanked God for protecting my girl.

Then as I finally breathed for the first time in 10 minutes, I realized my knees were covered in blood. I took the brunt of the fall I guess, and 2 days later, my knees are still raw and exposed and bleeding. I didn't even notice because I was so worried about my girl.

There have been so many times that Jon and I have prayed for God to protect our girl. So many times that we've been scared for her, and thankfully, just as many times that she's been ok in the end.

But we are so appreciative of everything. Lilly dancing on a stage? The coolest thing ever. Taking Lilly to Europe just so she can eat at the best pizzeria in the world? Justified. Staying in her room until she falls asleep every night, even though we should be making her more independent? Of course- I want to be there for every waking minute of her day until she starts lightly snoring.

The close calls suck. But how amazing Lilly is with her strength and her spirit. Our girl can overcome anything, and we don't take that for granted.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Dance Recital

It's hard to put into words what I witnessed yesterday.

For the past few months, Lilly's been going to hip hop dance class each Friday, the same dance school where her 9 and 12 year old cousins take dance classes. The school is so great. It both encourages kids to do their best, but in a noncompetitive way. The teachers and staff are so positive and had total faith in Lilly's ability, and as such, she met their high standards and succeeded.

This is what we've been trying to say all along. It's not about Down syndrome, it's not about "can she" or "can't she." It's about believing in all childrens' abilities. All the children in the show yesterday did fantastic.

I can't tell you how many times, when a professional encounters my child with a feeling of trepidation or wondering if she can actually do something, Lilly totally senses that and reduces her own standards, sometimes missing the mark.

And then there are those people out there who are good at what they do, those school teachers and therapists and dance teachers and swim instructors, who hold the bar high, and believe in my girl - not despite Down syndrome, but because she is a little girl in their class like any other child, who can do whatever task they put before her.

Lilly thrives on this, and it is my hope that we continue to find people in Lilly's life who maintain this attitude. Because when Lilly knows she can be successful, she blows us away.

This isn't about inclusion, but it is a point for it: Lilly being in a regular dance class without restrictions and her learning the routine perfectly along with the other girls. Getting on a stage in front of about a thousand people and showing her natural talent. I am impressed by her, and so happy that she had such a supportive staff to lead her to this moment.

Lilly wasn't amazing because she has DS or despite her having DS. She was amazing as a little Gummy Bear dancing her cute little orange tail off with her friends. She was applauded by the crowd because her group did a great job. And to witness this was incredible - but the feeling of pride she had in the moment was beyond words. Lilly, may you always know that you can do anything you set your mind to. And may you be surrounded by people who believe in you as much as I do.

A special thanks to her teacher Hanne who went above and beyond - not just with Lilly's class but with the whole dance school who performed yesterday. I don't know how they got 550 kids to perform in 2 sold out shows in unique costumes with great choreography routines without any kind of issues. The audience was blown away by the whole production. It was amazing, and thank you so much.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The home stretch

It would be an unusual feeling, except that it feels just like it has for the past 4 years. May 2008 - getting ready to move to New Zealand. May 2009 - getting ready to move to Charlottesville. May 2010 - getting ready to move to New York City. May 2011 - getting ready to move to DC.

I've made the requisite enquiries. School and jobs are set up, so we're at the point where we figure out everything else. Cars. Furniture. Doctors. The extra varients like dance, gymnastics, neighborhood pool, hippotherapy, PT/OT/speech. Can I stress it enough? We've done it for the past four years.

And wrapping up our current life. Like finally feeling like we're figuring out life in one location before turning the transfer switch and ending up somewhere else. Doing the "end of year" school stuff for Lilly, figuring out what to do with furniture that won't go with us (everything but clothes and toys), saying our goodbyes. Setting up the logistics of flights and moving and hotels and where we'll be when. Yet we've done that for the past four years too.

One foot out the door, one foot getting ready to step into a new door. Of a house I haven't even seen in person yet, which is unnerving. But we've done that for the past four years as well.

I'm excited and slightly nervous about this next move because it's permanent. We have to make it work and start off on the right foot because we're not moving again in a year this time. We'll set down our roots and hope we meet good friends for us and for Lilly. Hoping we like her school and that Jon likes his job and figuring out what the heck I'm going to do - continue to work part time at what I know and love, or spread my wings for potentially bigger and better? Hard to decide.

And like each year for the past four years, we're saying goodbye to a lifestyle and saying hello to another. Starting to say things to Lilly like, "Soon you won't go in taxi's or take the subway anymore, we're going to get a real car!" Just like two years ago it was warning her that we'd be driving on the wrong side of the road (again) and preparing her that she'll live in a new house (or her old house or a house on a cliff or the eighteenth floor of an apartment in the Upper East Side). Telling her about how much she's going to love her new school and meet new friends, and preparing her to say goodbye to her current friends - especially her best friends, her NY cousins.

Each place we go to is a lifestyle change; we couldn't pick 4 more different cities to live in the past four years, and none are even comparable to our "hometown" of Atlanta. A small town, a foreign country, the big apple, and the suburbs of the nation's capital. I almost feel like I'm having a taste of the Real Housewives of wherever with each move.

But I'm excited. I'm already thinking of ways to spoil my little girl when we get to our new house. Like, hopefully, a trampoline or some kind of swingset for the backyard. And a karaoke machine, very important. And her own bathroom (thank goodness!). And maybe, if I can get really domestic, a little garden - even if it's just herbs in pots on the windowsill. And most of all, promises that we'll be back in Manhattan for Radio City Rockettes Christmas show next winter, and for Annie's return to Broadway in 2012.

And as always, we never move without Lilly's typical "get on an airplane and do something Disney" along the way. On the way to NY, and on the way home from New Zealand we went to Disney World. On the way to New Zealand we went to Disneyland. And so in just 2 months from now we will get on our Disney Cruise in Barcelona and tour the Mediterranean. Just so Lilly has her "normal" Disney transition, of course. (And because moving is not expensive enough on its own, so let's add a vacation at the same time, right?)

Life is interesting, I think. I'm half excited, half dreading, half anticipating, half nervous (4 halfs?) about the next month of closing up shop and getting ready to settle in again. But maybe I'm most nervous about - for the first time since Lilly was born - actually giving up our adventures and tourist lifestyle for a "real" life. But maybe it's about time.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Once upon a time, I was a little girl. And my parents brought me to Montauk every summer for 6 weeks to go camping at Hither Hills.

Lilly swinging at Hither Hills

It defined me, having this space of just being a kid. Of running and playing, swinging and laughing, swimming in the ocean and building castles on the beach.

Lilly running on the boardwalk.

I loved the quality time with my family. Meeting friends, riding a bike, soaking in the warm sun, reading books. Being creative because we didn't have a tv to distract us from life.

Lilly the photographer took a picture of us on our 7 year wedding anniversary this weekend.

And I got to bring my daughter back to the very same playground that I spent most of my summers running around. The equipment may have changed over the years, but the feeling of pure happiness has not.

I'm pretty sure that I had the same huge grin at the same age in the same exact spot, 25 years ago.

Most of the time, our lives are hectic. We have so many activities, so many vacations and weekends away; so many unique experiences in our current nomadic lifestyle. We don't usually know how to just stop and live in the moment. But here, we did.

Lilly walking to the beach at our hotel, Driftwood. Which was just renovated and the rooms were beautiful, as was the location. Highly recommended.

The cold weather didn't stop us. The sun wasn't our friend this weekend, but we absolutely made the most of it. Sand in sneakers wouldn't stop us from appreciating the fact that we live in New York City and a weekend away at the beach is to be savoured, no matter the temperature.

Jon on the beach.

And so ourside our comfort zone, I reverted us back to my childhood. We stopped looking at our cell phones (we didn't get signal anyways), sat in the cold sand and lived in the moment of just wanting to teach our little girl to make a good sandcastle. I pushed aside my obsessive compuslive need to be "clean" and dug my hands deep into the sand, showing Lilly where he best sand castle sand would be, slightly damp underneath the powdery sand surface above. Sand got under our nails, in our jackets, on our clothes, and we loved it.

My novice castle maker.

And we explored. We drove all over town, as I explained to my girl and her daddy all the times we had gone here and there. Lilly even put away her i-pod to be in the moment of just driving around, seeing the sights, and feeling the hills on Old Montauk Highway as she laughed out to us: "Wheee! I love this ride!"

Montauk Lighthouse

We ate overpriced food, paid too much for parking at the Lighthouse, and enjoyed the experience of not just doing touristy things, but re-exploring what meant so much to me as a child. These things are priceless, I think.

Daddy's girl.

Every thing we did, I saw myself in my daughter. I remember specifically what it was like to be her age, in the same spot, feeling the same feelings of comfort and excitement and love and security and just pure joy and happiness.

Lilly with her favorite doll doing her "Hannah Montana" modeling pose.

In a way, it was like seeing myself as a child. And wanting to give her everything that I had known and felt at that age. And the best part was, she was totally receptive to it, and was as happy to be there as I wanted her to be, if that makes sense.

Posing outside Gosman's after dinner.

I can't tell you how many times Lilly looked into my eyes with a huge grin and said "excited!" It almost made me want to buy a 4 million dollar house in town, just to give her that feeling every day of her life. (Somehow we couldn't raise the funds for such a house.)

Lilly with my cousin Taylor, who lives in the Hamptons. Lilly adored her.

So since we forgot to be millionares so we could retire in our 30's to a house on the beach, we just had to soak up all the raw happiness while we were there. As much as we loved the beach and simplicity in New Zealand, this was like my "home" as a child and it meant so much more being here. Walking the same paths holding my daughter's hand that I remember walking myself as a little girl, holding my mommy's hand.

Walking down the stairs at Hither Hills where I always remember my mom pointing out the sweet smelling honeysuckles to me.

As the weekend started to wrap up, I got sad, and more nostolgic. I wondered, what would we provide to Lilly to give her these same feelings that I have from my childhood? What would be the legacy that she would someday say to someone: "I remember when I was little..."

Lilly and her daddy resting at a campsite.

We will move for the last time this summer. Our super unique experiences - travel, Broadway, living overseas, moving every year, will taper off. And in its place Lilly will finally have a home that she will remember. Normalcy, routines that last longer than a year. Yet I can't help but hope that each summer we can sneak off, maybe for just a week, to Hither Hills and teach her how to camp, to amuse herself, to enjoy being outside and enter a sandcastle contest with training and preparation from her mommy (who has a few sand castle championships under her belt). To teach Lilly to just be a kid for a little bit. To pass on the tradition that her mommy got from her own mommy, so that in 25 years when Lilly visits the beach here, she will take in a deep breath just like I did this weekend and feel total relaxation and peace.

But either way, Lilly had a great weekend. And so did we.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day.

I could tell you all the bad parts of our Mother's Day weekend.

Saturday was nuts, I guess. Lilly and I had a jam-packed day, which meant, not even time for a shower for me in the morning; I thought maybe I'd catch up later in the day. Lilly swimming instructor was sick so she didn't want to get in the pool with the substitute.

We didn't have time to come back between swimming and our afternoon plans, so I never did sneak in that shower. We saw Mary Poppins on Broadway (for the second time this year) and Lilly thought the part with Mr Banks at work was boring and shouted down to the stage: "I don't want Mary Poppins." We came home exhausted, and I was able to take a bath with Lilly to finally get clean. Jon was exhausted from working all day, and we both did not communicate very well, and had a little fight. Lilly went to sleep and woke up a half hour later having a croupy cough which lasted a while and she even threw up a little, and we had to sick her head in the freezer for a couple minutes to resolve it (we've found that super cold air reduces the swollenness of her throat when she has a coughing spell - later, we kept the air really cold in her room all night). Since she was so sick, we canceled our plans to go out to my sister's on Mother's day for brunch.

Sunday morning, Lilly greeted me on Mother's Day at 6 am (an hour earlier than normal). I immediately had a migraine, which is still there somewhat now. She was full of energy, and yet sick, if that makes sense (I'm sure it will to most parents). Jon made me coffee before he went to work at 7, and as I took my first sip I noticed some linty looking hairs in it - yuck. I put it down.

By 8, Lilly and I were making progress on our day, bringing the first load (of 4) of laundry that we were doing this morning. We have laundry on our floor (although it's $5 a load!), and when we came back 45 minutes later to put the laundry in the dryer, the laundry smelled horrible, and the machine was still half full of stinky water. Apparently, it broke halfway through. So Lilly and I had to gather the soaking wet dirty laundry and bring it up to the 19th floor to start the load - again- there. Then we managed to do all the other loads on the other floor. Meanwhile, halfway through one of the loads, Lilly put the laundry money card down and we couldn't find it again - right after I put $50 on it. Ugh.

Then, Lilly was playing with Curious George, and decided he needed to go to bed. But first, she needed to teach him how to go to the bathroom. Whatever occured in that bathroom after she shut the door is a mystery to me, but 5 minutes later I opened the door and the entire floor was covered in more peepee than Lilly and the monkey could produce, combined. Seriously?

So then I had to clean up all the urine off all the surfaces of the bathroom, while keeping Lilly from walking with her peepee body all of the apartment. So I put her in the tub to clean her off, and realized that when I cleaned the shower last night with a new cleaner, it hadn't totally washed off the floor, so if I turned the drain on in the bath Lilly would essentially be sitting in bleach. So, I'm simultaneously trying to clean the cleaner off the floor of the tub, while cleaning the pee off of Lilly, while trying not to step in too much pee on the floor of the bathroom... Seriously?

I managed to get both Lilly and the bathroom cleaned up, and got her dressed, before we had to walk up to the 19th floor for the gazillionth time to put laundry in the washer and dryer; having to put money on a new card on the way since we lost the one I had just put $50 on. Meanwhile, Lilly kept getting confused on the 19th floor since she lives on he 18th floor and they look identical and she kept not understanding why we were taking so many stairs...

Mother's Day was turning out to be a disaster. Between Lilly being sick, my migraine, our catastrophies, and a daddy MIA (ok, he's at work saving lives, but still..) it was a little nutty. I ended up having to cancel our afternoon plans with good friends of ours, which I had really looked forward to. :(


But, there's another perspective to this Mother's Day weekend. And, it's the one I'd like to take with me...


I knew in advance that with Jon being on call this weekend, things would be a little nuts. So, I decided to take advantage of the Lilly/mommy time and scheduled a special day for the two of us on Saturday.

We woke up Saturday morning and Lilly immediately asked if we could go get a bagel. I said "yes" even though we had some in the apartment, because it's such a treat to go out with her in the morning like this. We put on our matching blue dresses with matching black leggings and walked downstairs. Lilly had her pink purse on her arm. We went to Daisy's, the cute cafe down the block from us, and Lilly ordered a bagel with cream cheese (no suprise there) while I got a refreshing cappuccino. It was heaven sitting there with my girl at 8 am on a weekend morning, eating and drinking coffee and sharing small talk. Lilly charmed a family sitting next to us (of course), and she and I talked about our day, and our future plans.

When we were finished, we came back upstairs, and got ready for swim class. At 9:30 we left the apartment for a 2 mile walk down to the Millenium Hotel for Lilly's swimming lesson. It turned out to be a beautiful morning - cold enough for a little jacket but sunny and pretty. Lilly sat in the stroller listening to her Ipod while I got in a good walk.

Lilly was excited about her swimming class, although a little nervous since her normal teacher wasn't there. After a little while, she jumped in and showed off her swimming skills. Her confidence and enthusiasm enhances her swimming efforts; she wants to be a good swimmer and so she is. She eagerly swam from one side of the pool to the other to get a little duck. Motivation.

Towards the end of the lesson, Lilly's daddy showed up which made her so happy. He then suggested that we walk over to Times Square early and get some lunch. Instead of the shower and that I had been hoping for after swimming, I traded it in for some unexpected family time - even better.

We walked over to Times Square and picked up our Mary Poppins tickets for the 2 pm show. Lilly was so excited when we got near the theater; and she posed for pictures outside with me. We still had a couple hours before the show started, so we went to a Mexican restaurant for lunch. The guacamole was amazing - made at the table in front of us - and it was a relaxing meal, although Jon was answering pages most of the time.

Next, we walked over to the Disney store, where we checked out princess dresses (didn't buy any) and watched a big screen with videos of Lilly's favorite movie clips - Tangled, Princess and the Frog, etc. Jon had to go back to work, and it was almost time for our mommy/daughter afternoon to continue at Mary Poppins!

We arrived at 1:15 for the 2pm show. They let us in the theater, but we weren't able to go to our seats until 1:30. It was nice arriving early though; we had to access our seats through the balcony, so it wasn't crowded yet to go in the elevator to the top floor. Lilly went to the bathroom all by herself (like, in the stall, lock the door and keep mommy out by-herself) but it was fine with me since it was relatively empty (and I made sure before she went in that I could probably crawl under in an emergency). She was proud of herself, as she loves being independent.

We killed the next 10 minutes looking at the merchandise area - they had a Mary Poppins Barbie doll that was so adorable and Lilly loved - especially her purse. And there was also a Mary Poppins kid-sized that Lilly loved as well, and the lady behind the counter was amused by Lilly's fascination with purses. Lilly and I were still wearing our matching blue dresses and got lots of attention.

Finally, the theater doors opened up, and Lilly and I made our way down to our seats. We had, in my opinion, the best seats in the house. We were in a "box" just the two of us. The disclaimer is that there are probably seats that have better views, generally - especially on the orchestra level. And Lilly had to sit on a booster to see, especially with a bar in front of her eye level (because we were high up). But once the show started, we could see perfectly, and it was so amazing to have just the two of us in our own "box" with so much room. No one in front or behind us to worry about the view; no one near us distracting us by getting up or coming in late. No one to worry about if Lilly had to whisper something to me in the middle of the show. And the space itself was amazing (which to a New Yorker - which I now quasi consider myself - having space is priceless) - being able to keep our backpack and stroller in the box with us, having room for Lilly to walk around at intermission, and having our own private staircase to leave at the end so we weren't exiting with the masses - was so nice. Plus, I got the seats on sale for $50/each, which is a great deal.

The show itself was great, just like last time. Lilly was so excited when it started. She loved each song, and was in love with Mary Poppins. She clapped enthusiastically, and just had such an appreciation for the experience. My favorite part was realizing that, sometimes when Lilly was clapping, it wasn't just that she loved it - but you could see in her expression that she was proud of the actors - if that makes sense. Like she didn't just like the song and dancing, but that she was so happy they did a great job singing and dancing. Does that make sense?

Afterwards, Lilly gave me a few huge hugs and kisses and "I love you"s and it was so worth it to plan this special event with my girl. The two elderly ladies in the box above us chatted with Lilly about her favorite part. Lilly said it was when Mary Poppins flew by us at the end.

We left the theater and made our way back uptown in a taxi. When we got inside, we immediately went to the bath. I still hadn't had a shower, so I put on my swim suit and hopped in the bath with Lilly. My girl even washed my hair, which was kind of relaxing - I don't think someone's washed my hair in a bath since I was Lilly's age! All in all, I had a great afternoon with my girl.

The next morning, as stated above, was a little nuts. But the positives: Lilly was in a great mood, even for being sick and being forced to do so much laundry with me. (It's hard in an apartment to do laundry because we have to keep leaving, so each time I have to bring Lilly with me outside our apartment down the hall or up to another floor - it's not like in a house where I can just run upstairs and put in the load.) But she was a trooper and was very helpful.

Jon came home finally and took Lilly to the park so that I could focus on getting the rest of the laundry done and cleaning the house. At 2:30, I met up with them at Central Park and we went in a horse and carriage ride - just like in the movies. Lilly felt so special, she was so excited to do something like this that she'd seen so many times when we walk through the park. Plus, there's a princess factor to the experience. For a few minutes, she waved to everyone we passed by (as princesses do in parades, of course) and then she got her camera out and took pictures the rest of the way.

Afterwards, we walked to the zoo and since we have an annual pass, went in and walked around for a few minutes. We went to the petting zoo as well and Lilly tried feeding the sheep, although she was nervous - so mostly Jon and I fed the sheep.

Afterwards it was time for an early dinner. I was still sad that we had to cancel our earlier plans with friends because Jon's pager was going off nonstop and Lilly being sick and the pure chaos of our day; but we decided to make the most of it and went to our favorite local Italian restaurant, a couple blocks from the house.

The food was great, and Lilly was exhausted which meant she was laid back during dinner. We beat the rush (at 4:45, dinner is not that busy yet!) so the restaurant was half-full. Lilly loved her pasta and I loved my fettuccini alfredo and Jon loved his chicken marsala.

When Lilly was finished eating, she started looking around to see whether she wanted to be mischievous or not. She started to get up, and the chef came over. Then he said: "Do you want to make a pizza?" Are you kidding me, we were thinking, of course she wants to help make a pizza. The chef took Lilly's hand, and brought her into the kitchen. The owner came over and told us we could go take pictures. We went back to the kitchen as Lilly is standing on a chair, being taught how to toss pizza dough. Holy moly, what an experience. Then she put on the sauce, cheese, etc. He showed her how to put it in the oven, and then the owner said to us: "It'll be ready in 5 minutes, and she can take it home."

What a super cool experience for Lilly! She was so happy, and we were thrilled to watch. The owners were so cool for letting Lilly do this, and it was something we'll always remember. It's hard to put words on the experience - maybe magical would be a good one though. It's like they knew Lilly would love it as much as they would love showing her, if that makes sense.

It was just the perfect end to a perfect day and a perfect weekend.


It's funny how perspective can be. This weekend was half crazy chaotic and half wonderful amazingness. I guess that's how life is. Half empty, or half full. With Lilly, we always seem to notice the great more than anything else.

As Jon and I were walking home from dinner last night, still on a "high" from watching Lilly's cool pizza making experience, I said to him, it's like when Lilly was born, we were handed "rose colored glasses." Seeing things through her eyes, seeing all she appreciates and experiences, we don't notice anything else. Jon, of course, added his two cents: "It's like beer goggles?"

Either way, when we get to do fun things like catch a Broadway show or have an unexpected personal pizza making experience for Lilly, it's like the magic in Lilly merges with the magic of the experience and creates a feeling of pure joy for Jon and I to witness. It almost makes us forget that Lilly's favorite monkey was peed on and that I had a migraine and that our plans were canceled and changed.

It is so worth it to just be in the moment with our girl. She makes me so proud to be her mommy. Happy Mother's Day to my mom and to all the moms out there. And to the little girl who made me a mom - I love you, Lilly.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

This and that

Last night, I covered the entire living room with clothes. Stacks and stacks and stacks of clothes, all belonging to Miss Lilly. I can't believe how much she's grown since last summer, so all the size 4 clothes were taken out and promptly put away. She has some size 5's and I took those and a bunch of hand me downs from Lilly's cousins, and laid out all the shirts and all the pants and mix and matched. No kidding, it took like 2 hours. Jon at one point said something like: "I have no idea what you're doing but I couldn't do it."

We ended up with about two dozen decent play clothes school outfits - most of the pants hand me down, some of the shirts from last year, and some of the shirts new. Lilly will be well dressed for the last few months of the school year. Assuming the weather actually becomes real spring-like - it's still in the 40's many mornings! And I paired up another dozen warm weather outfits that I set aside for summer.

Speaking of my living room - we (I) once again shook things up by moving around all Lilly's toys and the couches and all the furniture. I like to do this once a month to keep Lilly on her toes - she then appreciates her toys more, and thinks it's funny that the couch is in a new spot. She even found a way to use the couches as a gymnastics tool.

And, she discovered the baton this week. I put on a show with an old baton (not that I'm that good at it, but I can do a few tricks) and Lilly didn't really attempt much with it. Then, the next day, she had Jon and I sit on the couch and watch her do her own show - and while I hadn't seen her practice in the meantime, she was quite excellent twirling. Such natual talent, that girl.

And her other talent is the violin. Not that we own one. So she takes her guitar and a fairy wand and pretends to play the violin. Do I see lessons in her future...? (Of course, I'm more partial to the piano and am already wondering how I can secretly hint to Jon and/or Santa for this as my Christmas present this year. Not that either one of them reads the blog...)

That's all for now. Just procrastinating cleaning up the house and getting a little more work done before Lulu gets home from school... (Did I mention? I'm working part time doing the same legal analyst job I was doing before, but with flexibility... I knew I couldn't spend a year without looking at Washington legislation!)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Tuesday

Trust. And faith. And fun.

I have such faith that there are good things in our life. Hearing Lilly say her bedtime prayers affirms that there is truly a God listening to her and blessing our family and that He's pretty proud of her too.

Tuesdays are "fun" days at our house. It's the only day of the week where Lilly has no after school activity. (Speech x2, swimming, soccer, dance, Broadway, the usual.) So the other option is to make Tuesdays really boring and tedious; but instead we always try to come up with a fun activity.

Today, we made homemade play dough. She poured everything and mixed it together in a pot, and then I cooked it, and then it was ready. I didn't use food coloring because I wasn't sure if it would get on our hands, so instead we had bland white play dough. But it inspired our creativity. We made lots of snowmen. And we made lots of "eggs" which Lilly then pretended to crack, pour and stir into scrambled eggs. It was a lot of fun with my girl.

Then, after dinner, Jon still wasn't home, so Lilly and I were thinking of something to do. I needed half and half, and instead of having Jon stop on the way to pick it up, I told Lilly that we were going to the store.

Normally after dinner she takes a bath, so she loves the days when I mix things up. She asked if we were going to get a bagel, and I told her no, we were going to get milk for my coffee. She ran into her room, shut the door, and came out 2 minutes later with her fancy brown shoes on. I handed her a five dollar bill, and she asked for a purse. She found her purse by the front door (of course) and put the money inside, got on her jacket, and walked out the door.

She was grinning ear to ear when we got in the elevator. She pushed "L" for "Lobby" (and Lilly) and happily walked out the door and down the street to our outrageously priced gourmet grocer. (Although half and half isn't too bad.) Right before the Grace's Market, she stopped to "window shop" at a toy store where there are Sesame Street dolls in the window. After looking a minute at those, she spotted a Justin Bieber "barbie" and sang loudly "Baby Baby Baby, Oh..." (I swear that while I rolled my eyes at the time, we'll probably own that Justin Bieber doll really soon.)

Lilly resumed her walk into Grace's, and I directed her through the crowd to the back. I showed her which one is mommy's half and half, and she was so proud. "Mommy's coffee milk!" We walked towards the front to pay, and Lilly totally knew what to do. She put her item up, the lady scanned it and said the price, Lilly gave her a $5, then took the change back. I don't know what makes other moms proud, but witnessing my child shop independently definitely brought a tear to my eyes.

Lilly put the change in her purse, grabbed the bag with the half and half, and confidently walked back outside. She knew which way to walk on the busy Upper East Side streets to get us back to the apartment, stopping briefly to wave at Justin Bieber again. She went inside our building, showing the doorman "I got milk!" and when we got in the elevator she showed the other passengers "coffee! milk!" She carried it proudly into our apartment, and our expedition was complete.

I have such a fun time with my girl. She appreciates that I trust her to be able to accomplish things, and she learns so much in the process of becoming independent, and letting me step back and let her have control of the situations. My coffee will taste a little bit sweeter in the morning.

Growing and moving.

There is something so fascinating about development. I consider us extra lucky that Lilly allows us to see all those in-between steps that many parents might take for granted. Lilly takes her time with each milestone and I love watching her thought processes and the way her body and mind learn how to do things one step at a time until she's accomplished something really cool.

The easiest place to see development is physical - like this year she's learned how to do amazing jumping. And her dance moves are constantly improving, of course, but actually she's always been advanced at that so that's not a surprise.

And in speech, we see Lilly not only say a million new things each day, but pronounce words so much clearer. Total proud moments, as our daughter fascinates us with her new language and communcation skills.

But what I don't always see is the totality of her brain development, because it's not black and white. It's not a concrete "one day she can't do it and the next day she can" the way it is with jumping, for example. But when we do see that she totally gets a concept that we didn't previously know that she knew, it is such a cool thing.

Yesterday, Lilly and I were talking, having a little mommy and daughter time. And Lilly said "Where's daddy?" And I said: "Where do you think?" And she said: "Daddy getting a house." (Jon was actually at work, but the week before she knew that he was in DC looking at houses for us to rent.) So I said: "Yes, daddy got us a new house." And she said: "Mommy, daddy and Lilly go on airplane, to the house."

And it just struck me as being so interesting, that Lilly understands that in a few months we're actually moving to DC to the new house, and that even though I never told Lilly we're taking an airplane to get here, she totally gets the concept of relocating, and that we'll go on the airplane and then live in a new area in a new house. That she took the little information I gave her, and paired it with the fact that a year ago, she got on an airplane and moved to a new house in NY. And two years ago, in NZ, she got on an airplane and moved into her house in VA. To Lilly, if your daddy gets you a house, then you get on an airplane soon and move there.

I don't know, it was just a funny moment where I realized Lilly totally gets the world more than even I give her credit for. Like last week, when I first told her about the house, and I told her that daddy would get us a house and we'd get a trampoline for her and she'd have her own bathroom and the house would be so nice... and Miss Lilly responded by singing from Annie: "Easy Street, Easy Street, where the rich folk play..."

I love my little funny girl.