Grace will be two at the end of this month. I can’t remember a faster two years.
Nor can this guy.
Grace had a few special requests for her family party this weekend and we were glad to oblige.
The guest list had to include Baby Nick, Clark and Uncle Zach.
We would listen to “Michael Jackson! Michael Jackson!” music.
There would be balloons.
We would eat a Gaston happy cake (they’re like regular cakes, only happier).
She may have a future in event planning.
Grace’s 2nd birthday party
I think I need to ask for a less freaky hand for my birthday.
The weather cooperated (sorry, mid-Atlantic states), but unfortunately cold season kept a few family members home. We missed them and made sure to save them some cake (but I might eat it…).
We kept the menu simple, mostly because nothing could top the Gaston cake. Gaston is one of Grace’s favorite books (it’s about a family of poodles and a family of Frenchies), and the folks at Sweet Tooth bakery in Southie did an incredible job recreating the cover.
Cheese and herb flatbread
Italian turkey meatballs (this was semi-traumatic for my vegetarian self, but I thought they’d be a crowd pleaser and I am trying to branch out a bit when cooking for everyone else… even if that means simply heating frozen ballz from Whole Foods in our crockpot… baby steps)
I photocopied a page from my sketchbook (all little drawings of Gaston characters) and used those images for food labels. Grace helped me make a few decorations over the past month or so, including a giant two and some not-so-giant party hats.
We had our loved ones there to celebrate with, balloons to play with, Michael Jackson to listen to, and plenty of cake to enjoy. So by Grace’s standards (and mine), this was the perfect 2nd birthday party.
Technically, it’s been a year and five days, but hey.
Grace turned one last week. And what a fast, happy, wonderful, challenging, beautiful year it has been. I snuck into her room at 12:16 last Thursday (she was sound asleep, a rare occurrence) just to see her and watch her and think about that first time we met her at that very same time, on that very same night.
Yes, that barrette is for real.
Becoming and being a mother has been overwhelming in the best possible way. It has made me tougher and it has made me softer. It has made me infinitely more in love with the Universe, and it has made me infinitely more worried about things I never paid attention to before. Like electrical outlets. And the measles (don’t get me started). Being Grace’s mother has made me so proud of myself, but it has also put my ego firmly in check.
Being a parent has made me appreciate my own parents in a way I wish I could have before. Because I would have been a more grateful, more delightful, better behaved (maybe) child. I am hopeful that whole “better late than never” thing applies here. My parents are just the best.
I used to wonder why people called their children 13-month-olds and 17-month-olds and whatever. Mostly, I have no idea how people keep track (so math challenged). But when I think about how much Grace changes each day, let alone each week or month, I kind of get it. When you’re nearly 33, you really shouldn’t give your age in months. Because whether you just turned 32, or you almost 33, you’re pretty much the same person developmentally. In my case: still bad at small talk, still pretty great at color coding, still hate most pants and cooked vegetables, still love checking the mail and taking naps on my yoga mat.
Our 1 year old/12 month old, on the other hand, has become such a person since being the born. All the changes are both amazing and a tiny bit bittersweet.
She started talking a few months ago and seems to know new words every few days. Right now the b-words (not the b-word, not ever I hope) are her favorites: bath, bubbles, books, baby, and bye. We’ve practiced some baby sign language (this book has been a great resource) — Grace has mastered the signs for more, eat, milk, all done, and book.
She has 3 teeth (and 4 on the way), 900% more hair than even two months ago and the teeniest, cutest feet that fit in precisely zero pairs of shoes. The only thing more confusing than women’s jeans sizing is baby’s shoe sizing.
Grace is starting to let go of our hands and the furniture when standing up, but hasn’t started walking yet. She likes to dance, climb, crawl, and sneak her way over to the printer and cable box. She can point to people when we say their names, turn pages in her books, nod when she says “yes,” and wag her finger when someone says “no” (I still don’t know where she learned this — it’s both hilarious and kind of strange).
She is obsessed with Clark and recently started feeding and kissing and hugging him… and trying to take naps on top of him. He likes the first three, and tolerates the fourth.
Grace loves to eat. She likes being fed, and really enjoys feeding herself. She has mastered drinking water through a straw, and will soon stop taking a bottle at daycare. I am still breastfeeding her in the morning, evenings, at 2 AM or 3 AM or 4 AM (or whenever Grace feels like it) and on the weekends, but I’ve stopped pumping at work (hallelujah). I never imagined we’d make it this long (and it hasn’t been easy), but I am grateful.
We chose to name our baby Grace because we loved the name, but she really is such a grace in our lives. What a year it has been.
Oh and P.S.: If you’re in the early part of the first year of parenting (or really any time, but especially in the beginning), be gentle and kind with yourself. You are doing a great job.
Also On Tap for Today:
Ordering prints from Grace’s birthday party (photos to come, my friends!)
Grace turned a month old and I turned 32. Nick crushed 14.1, Clark discovered heating blankets. Speaking of Clark (and Nick), a few people have asked how I switch back and forth between my Instagram account (@ElizabethEv) and Clark’s (@clarkthefrenchie). The answer: I don’t. Clark’s account (and his recent summer slim down plan…) is all my husband’s doing. They’re quite the pair.
I spent my birthday morning the best way possible: curled up with my little family.
Naturally, Clark wasn’t far away. I love his squishy face and greying beard. He’s like a distinguished old gentleman (if you ignore all the farting).
Nick put together a lovely dinner (takeout from my favorite Mexican restaurant, grown up things like candles and place mats, a perfectly portioned cake) while Grace napped (hallelujah). It’s been ages since we sat down together for a meal. It was wonderful. And so appreciated.
I love wrapping paper. Maybe when I am old and retired, I can get a part-time job merchandizing wrapping paper at Homegoods. If you’re going to dream, dream big.
I’m all for inspiring tea quotes, but the “warmth and love of my soul” has been no match for this frigid polar vortex nonsense. It was, like -100 in the midwest this weekend, so 18 in Boston probably seems balmy, but enough already. This lady needs some fresh air.
My parents, sister and brother-in-law stopped by on Sunday after Mass with all kinds of treats (including a hundred CDs from my childhood bedroom… more on those gems later). These macaroons are incredible.
I channeled my inner Donna Meagle and treated myself to a new electric kettle. I’ve been drinking quite a bit of tea lately, and have become paranoid about everything potentially unsafe. Like boiling water and open flames and stoves. I like that this kettle sits a safe distance from our counter ledge, promptly turns off when the water boils, and stays cool to the touch. Also: I like cute things.
You’ve heard this story before: I’m attempting a full month of #fmsphotoaday. Saturday’s prompt was yellow. What’s the over/under on me making it past Tuesday?
As I mentioned earlier, Clark recently discovered heating blankets. He’s nothing if not resourceful.
Everyone’s favorite Frenchie turns four today. That makes him 28 in human years. It’s high time he got a job and considered moving out.
Just kidding. I wouldn’t mind if he learned how to drive and could swing by the office with some piping hot Nespresso every now and then, though.
We’ve had some good times over the past three-ish years since bringing Clark home. This past year has been especially great, given our therapy visits to the hospital and local schools. I love being able to share him with such awesome kids. Just this week, I got to watch Clark curl up on a rug in one of the classrooms at Franciscan Hospital for Children while one of the kids practiced reading to him. My heart got all mushy.
It was similarly mushy a few weeks ago when a package of hand drawn cards arrived in the mail from a group of kids we visited earlier this year. I will post the rest on Clark’s very own Facebook page later today. That’s right. I am officially a creep and created a Facebook page for my dog. Judge freely.
In celebration of Clark’s fourth birthday, here are a few Frenchie “fours.”
Clark’s four favorite foods:
Boiled chicken (which, by the way, smells like a dead body… a dead chicken body, I suppose)
Four things an animal communicator (yes, I brought him to a pet psychic) told us about Clark:
He loves Christmas (who doesn’t?)
He likes Taylor Swift and wishes we would leave the radio on for him while we’re at work
Nick is his favorite
He wants a turtle, a hermit crab, a rabbit or a baby (at least he’s not picky)
The four things kids always ask us at pet therapy:
Where is his tail?
Does he have any puppies?
Does he snore?
When is he coming back?
Four things we call him (besides his real name):
Min (short for Mini, which is short for Mini Vegas, which… nevermind)
Little muffin (see below)
o meu menino (Portuguese for “my boy”)
A couple of years ago, I was walking Clark in Southie when a bus driver opened his window and started yelling, “Muffins! Hey! Muffins!” I thought either I was being sexually harassed or that the man was operating some sort of mobile MBTA bakery… until I realized he was calling out to Clark. He asked how “little muffins” was doing, and I was like, “Um… his name his Clark.”
“I know,” he replied, “but my nickname for him is Mr. Muffins.” Well, alright. I immediately told Nick about this, as we often wonder what sort of nonsense Clark gets into with his best friend and dog walker while we’re at work. I am not sure if Nick totally believed the muffins story. Months and months passed and finally that same bus driver pulled up while the three of us were out walking. The door opened, and Nick got to hear “Muffins!” for himself. It was awesome.
Life is never boring with Clark. Happy birthday, little muffin.
It’s probably rude to wish yourself a happy birthday, but what the heck. Happy Birthday to me… and Justin Bieber. With two such remarkable Americans born on this day, it’s a surprise March 1st isn’t a national holiday. Sort of. [Thanks to one lovely commenter (below) for informing me that Justin Bieber is, in fact, Canadian. My bad.]
Wondering what else happened on this day? According to wikipedia, a whole bunch of bad stuff (Catholics murdered 23 Huguenots in 1562, the Salem Witch Trials began in 1692, and the worst avalanche in the history of the US killed 96 people in 1910). Fortunately the Biebs and I came along to turn things around.
While I may not have any hits on the radio, nor scores of adoring fans, nor a fragrance on sale at Macy’s, I like to think I’m doing my little part in this world. And that I get better at doing that little part every year.
Also On Tap for Today:
A much needed massage and a B12 shot (I know how to live)
I alluded to a Valentine’s Day and early birthday surprise last week, and then sort of forgot to tell you what it was. Rude, I know. Welp, ready your best Price is Right voice, because I am currently driving a newwwwwww carrrrrrrrrrrr! Nick lied and said he needed to take my car to FedEx/Kinko’s last Wednesday. I knew he was lying (with a pretty weird lie, at that), but had no idea that he was actually selling my old car and buying a new one. I am a human lie detector, but not a psychic apparently. Needless to say, I am beyond grateful. And drivin’ around with a giant trunk permasmile, enjoying that new car smell.
I’d had my old car since 2005. It survived three years of commuting to Rhode Island, the time I rear-ended a visitor fresh from Japan (he was driving a rental car and had just left the airport… welcome to America… BAM!), and several breakdowns (or things breaking, like the frame). After serving us so well, it was bittersweet to say goodbye, but man… was I excited to get behind the wheel of our new ride. Before I put the pedal to the metal though, we had to clear out the Ford. Eight years makes for quite a bit of junk in the trunk. And in the glove compartment.
With the exception of the aforementioned bumper tap, I kept pretty good care of my first car. I was religious about oil changes and kept record of all work done on the car over the course of its 130,000 mile life. I think someone must have told me to do this. I also kept all of its inspection reports. And car wash receipts. And parking tickets and traffic violations I must have been saving for my non-existent scrap book. Who knows. It helps to have a little document pouch, complete with a stock photo of your car, to keep all these things tidy.
The new car is much lighter on stuff. For one, there are fewer important documents. Mostly because nothing has happened yet. There are no dented wiffleball bats in the trunk, no Motorola flip phones in the glove compartment. Just the necessities: plenty of quarters for parking meters, the code to our storage facility gate (I cannot, for the life of me, remember secret codes), a paddle ball set (you never know when you might need to have fun), Clark’s travel crate, and a lightning cable for our iPhone jams.
I wasn’t sure whether to lead with that, or save the best for last. It seems like much of the year (and the end of 2011) felt like a lead up to the wedding, and I loved (nearly) every minute of it. From marriage prep class to cake (pop) tasting, it was quite a bit of fun. Seriously. There was certainly a melt down or two, but when you get to marry your best friend, the silly stuff (like table linen swatches) sort of fades to the background.
A close second to getting married was the time we spent immediately thereafter. Nick and I took a ten day honeymoon to St. John, where we swam, snorkeled, explored, sailed and floated to our hearts’ content.
After months and months of listening to Nick and friends rave about CrossFit, I got my first taste of the proverbial KoolAid while visiting Reebok World Headquarters and Reebok CrossFit One with FitFluential. I was hooked at 3-2-1 go! I joined Crossfit Southie and started going to WODs twice a week with Nick. If you’re looking to be challenged, and to find a great community to keep you going, I highly recommend taking your own sip of the (paleo?) KoolAid.
Clark passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen and therapy dog exams earlier this year (I like to think I did a little work, too, but it’s his name on the certificates…). We’ve made visits to a local children’s hospital (specifically to a pediatric and adolescent psych unit) nearly every week since July and I can say without reservation, it has been the most rewarding and moving volunteer work I have ever done. It’s such a privilege to be able to connect with such wonderful kids, and the adults who care for them. Though some visits are more difficult than others, I always leave feeling like my heart is spilling over. And Clark always looks pretty darn happy, too.
5. Putting down roots in my ‘hood
Perhaps it’s because our condo was good and renovated by the start of 2012, but it feels like we really put down roots this year. From Crossfit Southie to our local coffee shop, our routine is very local. And I love that. I love that strangers know my dog’s name (I don’t love when they try to feed him Cheetos, though). I love that I see the same people, doing the same things, day after day. I love that I have to cross a bridge to leave, and a bridge to come home.
Simply put, I love our hood. Especially when I’m wearing a (Reebok) hood.
6. Making a health plan
After vowing to find a new primary care physician for years, I finally made good on my promise and ended up with not only a great doctor, but an entire team of health care professionals. Though the months of blood tests, elimination diets, poking and prodding got old fast, I am feeling better than I have in years. Like, 10 years. Though chronic illnesses like colitis don’t vanish into thin air, I’ve learned so much about managing symptoms and making changes. This former pastatarian has forgone gluten and lived to tell of it. And the weekly B12 injections? Completely worth the literal pain in the butt.
200 miles, 12 girls, 2 vans. A recipe for disaster? Or the ultimate weekend? Thanks to New Balance, we averted disaster and had the ultimate relay experience. I think of my teammates whenever I hear “Call Me Maybe.” Fortunately, I love my teammates. I hear that song a lot. Still.
This should have been far closer to the top of the list (my brain has a tendency to wander, we know this), but becoming an aunt has been a highlight not only of 2012, but of my semi-young life in total. I could have never imagined loving someone as much as I do my niece. When my older brother called me from the hospital to say that Nora Elizabeth had finally arrived, I cried and cried and cried. And when I held her the first time, welp… I cried and cried and cried. She is just incredible.
Being a guest of Nespresso and Emirates Team New Zealand on a VIP boat (complete with the best espresso) in Newport Harbor felt like something that should be reserved for a, welp, VIP. Somehow, I got a spot on one of the boats and enjoyed a front row view of the match races this summer. It was, quite simply, incredible.