I want you to imagine a little wild child of a girl. Picture a bouncing head of wild blonde curls racing around on wobbly toddler legs; she looks around with excitement as she spots a new adventure or a bit of mischief and runs toward it, shooting you a grin over her shoulder. "Mahn, mahn!" She shouts. (This is the toddler version of "C'mon, c'mon!")
That is my Rachelle. She is two years old today. I like to say she's a precocious two-year-old, because she started acting 2 a couple months ahead of schedule. She's been previewing the giddy madness of the so-called terrible twos enough for me to know that the two of us are in for an adventure. She talks all the time, and now mostly with words, though not always intelligible. She mimics everything her brother does, and lights up when she sees her baby sister. She is very sweet and obedient, except when she's not. She will take full advantage of any opportunity for shenanigans presented to her. She has boundless energy and enthusiasm.
I love RaRa so much. I love how sweet and considerate she is, how eager to help she can be, how her soft chubby cheeks feel against mine, how she drags me into the living room for snuggles ("snuggos, Mommy!") and how she has become her own little person in these past 2 years.
Happy birthday, sweet girl!
Bonus addendum: In the past, Rachelle has borne a striking resemblance to her mother. But recently, she has started to take on the look of her aunt, Tia Steph. This is a double bonus for me, since Tia Steph is beautiful, and also because she is one of my favorite people on earth. I love that I get to see my dear sister reflected back at me every time I look at my daughter. Photos to follow in another post.
My beautiful Annie is 3 months old today. I have loved every one of the 93 days we have had together. She is quite an individual even at this tender age. You won't see many photos of her smiling, mostly because she's not a smiler. She's not a cuddler. She's not a cooer. She likes to be held but not snuggled; she wants to know you are there but she needs her space. She does not enjoy having her brother and sister up in face all the time (which they are, and I don't dissuade them - Annie could do worse than to be overloved by her older siblings) and prefers quiet time to most other times. She does well travelling in the car and has a nearly perfect track record in the Baby Bjorn, which suits her temperament perfectly.
She has piercing eyes that let me know she is watching and learning and saving it all up for a later date when we'll have a long thoughtful conversation about everything. She is a kind baby who generally lets her mama get a solid 5-6 hours of sleep at night (not including visits from other wakeful children) and takes great naps. As is her birthright as 3rd oldest, she has been sick almost every day of her life, and seems to tolerate it with as much dignity as baby can.
She is an absolute love. She knows my voice and follows me with her eyes all day long, whether we're cooking and salsa dancing together or we're sitting on a park bench together enjoying the view as Stellan and Rachelle play. I don't know which one of us enjoys our companionable silence more, but it's safe to say that there's not much more any mother could ask for.
Enjoy a few photos of Annie taken today at exactly 3 months old!
All three of my kids are at an awkward age - the "almost" age. Annie is days away from the 3-month milestone, Rachelle is days away from turning 2 and Stellan will be 5 in a few weeks. So when people ask how old they are,* I dutifully tell them how old they aren't quite (see above description).
Don't worry, I know how annoying I sound as soon as I say it. These people just want to confirm that Rachelle is acting like a 2-year-old because she is a 2-year-old, and that they have no idea how old Annie is but she seems cute, and that they hope that Stellan is "older enough" that I am not crazy and irresponsible for have too many kids too close together. They don't actually care when my kids' birthdays are. So why do I feel compelled to be so lengthy in my age descriptors?
I realized that I feel disingenuous lying about their ages. Why? I'm only making it harder on myself and them. They don't want a long explanation and I know that even as I give it. So from now on (and really, only for the next few weeks until next year), I'm gonna lie. Because that what we all want, anyway.
*Side note: we have become a freak show, apparently. People seem not to be used to seeing a mom with 3 kids under the age of 5 in public locations other than parks and beaches. A recent trip to Pensacola that involved a specialty store, a ill-fated lunch at Chick-Fil-A and long afternoon at the mall confirms that people will literally stop and stare at us as we make our way around. And if we stand still long enough, they will ask very personal questions about their ages, my sanity, etc. When did I turn into that person? I mean, each of my individual children is certainly capable of stare-worthy acts, and I'm no stranger myself to thinly veiled eyeballing (especially during my bald phases), but I never thought that the simple act of my motherhood to these 3 beauties would be enough to bring mall traffic to a halt.
Here's a photo I took on my phone as I was leaving; it's taken from my point of view behind the double stroller wheel so you can sympathize with me and not the starers; please note the top of Annie's head as she is strapped to my chest via Baby Bjorn. Do we seem freakish to you? Please don't answer.
You see, we should have had a super amazing past week and a half. Really, the calendar was full, the excitement level was high. But then...
Stellan finished preschool last week. Or did he? The afternoon before his last day, he started throwing up. So did virtually every other kid in 4 classes at his school. Apparently some sort of waterborne stomach bug affected everyone who participated in the big water slide on Wednesday's Water Day celebrations. So do I have photos of him and his teacher while he holds a certificate of completion? No. Do I have a video of him singing songs he spent weeks practicing? No. Instead, we spent 3 days cleaning vomit off way too many surfaces in our home.
The next week was also supposed to be amazing. I'm sure you can't have helped hearing about the transit of Venus, especially if you know me. I was all set to talk to thousands of Fort Walton Beachians as they oohed and aahed at the view through the telescope of Venus passing in front of the sun. That is not what happened. Here is what did happen: I spent the night inside the local science center showing about 50 people the transit of Venus via webcast from Hawai'i and doing some fun, but not as cool as a never-to-be-seen-again astronomical event, hands-on activities. So do I have photos of a Baby Bjorn-laden Momstronomer (it was Annie's first outreach) engaging excited throngs by a telescope? No.
I thought my luck had changed on my drive home, when I saw the sun peeking through the clouds as it was setting. There was even a rainbow to bring me hope and good luck. As I raced home, cursing the minivan in front of me for only going five miles above the speed limit, I knew I had to get my sun-filter adapted binoculars from the kitchen counter and then head for high ground in order to have any chance of seeing the transit. I hurried Stellan into the car (Rachelle was going to bed and Annie was already in the car, albeit out cold) and we raced away. I am sad to report we were not fast enough. By the time we got out of our forested neighborhood, the sun was too low to be seen even from the best spot I could think of. So do I have a photo I took of the transit which I saw with my very own eyes through an eyepiece? No.
But hope springs eternal. This week was also Girls Camp. And though I did not attend for the whole week (because I have a nursing baby, not for lack of desire), I had been invited up to teach the girls about astronomy on Wednesday night. Sadly, it was pouring rain on Wednesday. I called the director and we decided to hope things cleared up by Thursday. They didn't. Not on Friday, either. If you know me and my love of Girls Camp, you know how sad I was to have missed my free ticket to the funnest place in Northwest Florida. So do I have photos of 80 teen girls unplugged from their tech toys and enthused about the night sky? No.
At least my week was going to end well. Girls Night Out was all planned, an evening on the beach sipping mocktails and watching the sun set - sans kids. It's that last part that's the real kicker. But guess what? A huge storm hit on Friday night, and hasn't let up yet. Streets are flooded and power out in nearby Pensacola. I fear for our leaky roof and hope it doesn't collapse on any of my children in their sleep. Do I have photos of a relaxed and thirst-quenched mom taking a well earned break on the beach at sunset with 20 or so of her closest friends? No. We did have a Girls Night In at my house, which included tasty treats, Dr. Mario and Phase 10, so it wasn't a complete wash.
So if you were wondering why this post has no photos, and nothing exciting to report, now you know. Our summer vacation is doomed. I'm quitting now before it gets worse.
P.S. Did I mention I wanted to go to Pensacola on Monday? Oh wait, now I can't. See above for details on flooding and power outages.