Small Stylers! I've missed you. I've got some exciting news to share, Miss Stella Bella turned TWO a couple weekends ago. And what a weekend it was. Three days off with the Chef, an anniversary celebration for the two of us (wagu beef yum), a barbecue with friends, and a co-birthday in the park with Stella's friend who is two days older.
Can you believe it? Two years ago, we were just setteling in to live with a baby, a baby who wouldn't sleep, fussed and fussed and fussed, and needed constant hushing and loving and bouncing and rocking and nursing.
Now, here we are, with a walking, talking, lovely little being who can empty her own potty, put away her own toys, carry an umbrella (sort of) stir the cake batter, wash the dishes (well, she thinks she can), make funny jokes, and cheer up crying babies.
We've also got a two year old, full of tantrums, opinions, and NO I WILL NOT GET ON THAT BIKE THE ONE WHICH I PREVIOUSLY LOVED AND INSTEAD I"LL JUST SCREAM ALL THE WAY TO DAYCARE and then, MY GOD WOMAN, WHY ARE YOU TAKING ME OFF THIS BIKE I MUST NOW GENTLY PLACE MY BODY ON THE GROUND, BUM UP IN INFANT POSE AND SCREAM AND HOLLER AND REVEL IN THE GOREOUS ECHOY PARKADE and oh look, THE LOBBY ECHOS EVEN LOUDER WHEN I SCREAM SO ARRRGGGGGHGHGH.
The week right after her birthday was pretty much that. Every day. All the time. I dropped her off at daycare and told the teachers, Good LUCK! And I may or may not have offered her, free of charge, to an admiring shop attendant who was remarking on her kawaiiatude.
As much as I mourn her babyness, with all of it's chubby sweetness and toothless innocence, I'm so proud of this wee girl. This little light of mine, she hugs her friends good bye. She offers other kids toys. She pats babies when they cry. She helps hatless friends retrieve their head coverings. She eats her spinach. And tabasco. And pizza pizza pizza. And when her father and I are distant and annoyed at each other after the stress of a long day and uncertainty of the upcoming months, she asks Mr. Chef and me to play Ring Around the Rosie.
We all hold hands, husha husha, we all are love.
::: First ::: rain coat - gifted by Nannie // jeans - Old Navy, Gifted by Auntie Carly // umbrella - Vilac
::: Second ::: top - Atsuyo Et Akiko // skirt - Baby Gap // tights - H&M
::: Third ::: Dress - Tang'Rolou
Oh my girl! She turned two yesterday. While my heart is full of sentimental ramblings and blubbering idiocy about how sweet this wee little bunny is, I'll spare you. Because, after all, what you really want is pictures of The Most Awesome Day Of Awesomeness, RIGHT??
Here you go:
We started the day with oatmeal, extra blueberries and maple syrup. Because she's so sweet.
And then post-breakfast presents. This was the first present occasion which she really "got" the whole present concept. As a big present fan myself, I can tell you that I'm very pleased about this development.
The bus puzzle from her Aunt. A very very VERY big hit. BUS!!
A sweater from Grannie. Also much loved. So much so, that it needed to be worn RIGHT AWAY.
Then it was off to the toy store where she got to pick any toy she wanted, care of Mama and Papi.
Testing out her new found love, the shopping cart.
Next up, a ride on the subway (aka the BUS!). Probably the most exciting part of the day. Then it was home for a plate of noodles, and a nap.
And it may or may not be true that I, too, fell asleep, and the snoozy household was snoozing so well that we almost missed our own birthday party. Oops. But then, I was just trying to be true to my heritage by being late and stuff. You know. It's a thing that we do.
Cake (egg free, dairy free, sugar full!) made by Papi while I napped. Because the cup cakes I made the day before, let's not even talk about those. Except I'll say that there has never before been a greater gastronomic catastrophe.
There were bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles.
And for the grown-ups too. Out of paper cups, because we're classy like that.
And presents. This from Stella's BFF, which has been a big hit, btw.
Oh, birthday girl. You are the sweetest little lovely ever.
Then after all the cake was eaten, and all the bubbles blown, it was off to the playground for sliding.
Then home, and pizza for dinner. A favourite of Stella's.
Really. Perfection. My girl. This day. Thanks for indulging me.
Okay, sorry, excuse me a moment. It’s been awhile, I think, since I told you just how effing amazing my kid is. Seriously. So, indulge me here, will you.
One wouldn’t really say that little S is given to corporeal risk. As an infant, she wouldn’t roll over until she was good and sure that she really really really could. It took seven months. She was sitting before she was rolling.
Stella took her first steps when she was just shy of a year, but then, for the next three months, she steadfastly refused to walk unassisted ever again. This, despite an intensive Walking For Pre-Walkers program instituted my father. She's careful and cautious and weary of bumps and bruises.
Stella has never even entertained the thought of climbing onto a surface that is higher than six inches off the ground. She would never dream of scaling the bookshelf or jumping out of her crib, or even stepping onto a raised surface without holding my hand. Still now at 19 months, she believes that she needs my assistance to get up on the couch, and my supervision to get down off my bed. She is like her mother: timid, hesitant, clumsy. Fairly the antithesis of sportive.
But this weekend. This weekend she simultaneously amazed and scared the shit out of me. Perhaps it was the unseasonably warm weather, or the frenetic, late afternoon energy generated by half a million children in the playground. Or maybe it was the doughnut. And cake. And several sips of my double tall mocha. Whatever it was, Stella was fortified. She clambered up the steps of the play structure, alone, for the first time ever.
Feet firmly planted on the ground, I encouraged her to slide down the baby slide. She considered it a moment, and then shook her head no. Nononononononono and was off, ascending to the pinnacle, intent on planting her flag and bragging to the other toddlers about her feat of mountaineering genius. I watched, heart in my throat, as she eyed the windy, big kid slide. A gaggle of children was now forming behind her as Miss S debated her next course of action. I swear my heart stopped beating, as I pictured her losing her balance and tumbling down, shattering at once her brain and her confidence. And I may or may not have shrieked, “OMG SOMEONE HELP HER!!! to the clueless kids at her back who obviously had no idea what I was yelling in English, while I paced like a madwoman below, calmly (frantically) reassuring my kid that, “It’s okay! You’re fine! Just slide down!” Other parents looked on bemused, or slightly uninterested.
But then she did it. She sat. Then shoved off, and slid down. By herself. Like a big girl. She was so happy, she jumped down and clapped her hands and beamed. Positively glowed. And this was, perhaps, one of my proudest parenting moments.
All photos were taken, obviously, well before I started pooping my pants because MAH BAYBEE IS UP SO HIGH AND IS BREAKABLE AND WAH!
And now, blah blah blah something insightful and heartfelt about how we should let go of our kids and encourage them to explore and blah blah whatever blah MY KID IS SO BRAVE AND COOL AND FUNNY AND I LOVE HER! Now, how 'bout a vote, hey? Down here. Just click.
Stella has recently added a few new words to her already robust and thriving lexicon (of two words, ahem.) Let’s talk about them for a moment, shall we?
Mama - While this one has been kicking around in the background of her vocabulary for a while, in the past few days it has burst forth to command a prominent spot in her every day utterances. But no, not Mama, I love you, or Mama, come get me from my crib, or Mama, let’s play. It’s more Mama, give me something I want. I feel this may be foreshadowing, you crafty literary god, you.
There - Stella’s main word until now has been “this” and god help the person who tries to identify exactly what this is in any particular situation. A cup of milk? No. An orange? Dis. *points emphatically* The Brita water filter? DIS. Papi’s phone? Nope. DDDDDIIIIIIIISSSSS. It is, then, with much exasperation that we add the new lexical item “there” for it is no more precise and no less likely to end in an interminable dialogue of There? Dare. There? Dare. There? DARRRRRE. So, basically, language acquisition for the win!
S - I don’t know. All I can say is my child, whom, I might add is a mere 18 months old, can correctly identify this alphabet letter by name. Which pretty much guarantees that she’ll be reading by two. Whatever, so she also calls every other letter in the alphabet S. And also most numbers. And all kanji. Shuddup. She’s a genius. I can tell because she just learned how to unlock my iPhone.
Remember how I don't brag about my kid? Hahahahaha. I'm full of shit.
How 'bout a vote? Please?
Lets talk about the fact that toddler-hood is imminent, if not right upon us.
Stella is walking, like really walking. I take her downtown, and she wants OUT! of the sling. She wants to stroll together with me, hand in hand, waving at all her many admirers.
She’s communicating - understanding lots of exciting things in English (let’s go to the park!) and in German (Stella, du schläfst), and probably in Japanese as well, although she’d be a much better judge of that than I.
Most exiting, she’s starting to make her wishes known, mostly through emphatic pointing and insisting on DIIIIISSS! DISSSS! DDDDDDDDDDIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIS!!!!!!!!! I tell her that it would be easier for all involved if she would work on expanding her vocabulary beyond the two words she currently has in high rotation. However, she does not heed.
Anyway. My point: I don’t think I can call my baby a baby any more. This walking, talking (sort of), long and lanky being has come so far.
See, let’s review. This was Stella on her very first appearance in Small Style:
And here she is now. A big girl.
It breaks my heart to see her grow. But it also makes it sing.
Anyway! OUTFITS! I threw this little thing together for a trip to the park, going for practicality over cuteness, but then suddenly realizing that I actually really dig the look.
Cardigan - American Apparel (size 6-12 months. I tell you, this is like the sweater that keeps on giving. The bottomless sweater, if you will. The sweater and the magic bean stalk. Okay. Whatever. I’m stopping now.)
Shorts - Thrifted
Tank - Gifted (from Switzerland)
Shoes - See Kai Run
Necklace model’s own (Can I get a wut wut, AISHA????)
Bow - AdornMeGirl
There is a chorus of other babies, small and big alike, over at Mama Loves Papa.
Pssssttt...EVERYONE, It's quarter to six in the morning and my baby girl is asleep! Oh my! We've been back in Japan for about thirty-six hours and Stella is sleeping! At appropriate times! Hooray!
With the exception of an hour and a half in the middle of the night wherein we were up and watching Mad Men and practicing standing on our own Stella slept pretty normally last night (where sleeping normally is waking at least every two hours to nurse). I am amazed. And thrilled.
I would like to take full credit for this nocturnal coup, counting my delft parenting skillz as the reason that she is now dozing peacefully in my bed while my husband it banished to the cot in Stella's room. I mean, after all, I did insist that she sleep on the plane, and invested considerable effort in ensuring that she get some zzzz remaining immobile at all costs, sleeping baby on lap compressing spinal column, sciatic pain be dammed. But, I am fully aware that this sleepytime-funtime is a total fluke. Whatever. I'm enjoying it to the full. Drinking my coffee. Catching up on my mail. Communing with the interwebz of fastness, which is, like totally, my favourite thing about Japan.
In other news. Stella officially has a first word: THIS (or sometimes IS THIS). Not mama; not papi; not even baby. This. Fine. Whatever. My feelings aren't hurt at all.
Stella and I are closing in on our last couple of days in North America.
Returning home to Japan (or wherever home happens to be) is always the same: ambivalence (happy to return to our normal routine; sad to say good-bye to familyfuntimes); delight (Mr. Chef! Mr. Chef! Mr. Chef!); chaos (a million things to do and far, far fewer than a million hours in which to do said things); dread (24 hours travel time, and a squirmy baby on my lap, and a guarantee of sciatic pain and exhaustion), anticipation (travel is fun! I love airports! can't wait to see Mr. Chef! and the katz!) and sadness (bye-bye amazing grocery stores, so long Nanny and Papa and aunties and cousins).
We are slowly preparing our bags, running around town stocking up on over-the-counter medicine, next season’s baby cloths, crunchy granola health food sundries and trashy magazines, while at the same time trying to pack maximum fun into every moment of each day, and press these golden hours with the grandparents between the pages of our memory books.
Papa came home from work early today. So, we spent the afternoon teaching Stella to walk.
At a year and two weeks, Stella finally started babbling. I picked her up from her two and a half hours at daycare, and suddenly there was an incessant chorus of ba ba ba ba ba ba ba bababababababbabababa ba that rang out all afternoon. This is quite the relief because, despite my insouciant posturing, I was secretly wracked with anxiety about the lack of consonant sounds in my life. But here they are! BA! And then, by dinnertime we had progressed to a little MA! for good measure.
This is also wonderful for another reason: of the three Super Awesome and Important Baby Skills (Super Awesome and Important Baby Skills the most significant markers of baby development; they include waving, clapping, and babbling),all were acquired at daycare, taught by Stellla's daycare teachers, rather than by her doting and adoring mother. I picked her up from daycare a couple months ago and she was waving. The next time we got home, it was clapping. And now, babbling. Fantastic. The kid spends FOUR hours a WEEK in daycare and gets more out of it than all the hours spent reading and the narration of daily activities and the baby sign langauge and other various and sundry baby betterment projects I dream up at home.
Whatever. I'm not bitter. I totally taught her how to use her index finger to swipe the iPad. And that's almost like pointing. Which is also a significant baby skill, and so yeah. I taught her to point. Huh, Daycare teachers?! HUH! DID YOU TEACH STELLA TO POINT???? NO YOU DID NOT. I DID. Best. Parent. Ever.
Stella's birthday was last Friday, and in true EPB fashion, it was a superdramatic-tear-soaked-sentimental-wah-wah event. BUT everyone DID look cute, and that's all that really matters, right? Thus, for Small Style, hosted as ever by the great Morgan at Mama Loves Papa, we are featuring NOT one BUT three! birthday! outfits! Hurrah!
The birthday started bright and early with present opening, and in a feat of parenting genius that we will very likely live to rue and regret, we bought Stella a kinder drum set. She loves it. But then, we knew she would.
OMG percussion HEAVEN!
(PJs - Thrifted; bow - Gifted, [wut, you don't put your kid to bed with her hair done???])
The morning continued with, believe it or not, more drumming!
(Dress + leggings- gifted by the world's best cousins)
And then the two of us trundled off in the rain to Mr. Chef's work for a birthday lunch en famille where we learned that Stella does not like sorbet. Our tip-off was the disgusted-accusatory-how-could-you-do-this-to-me look that I received after gently offering a teaspoon of sorbet. Whatever, kid. MORE FOR MEEEEEE!
Baby's own birthday chocolate. So cute I cried. AGAIN.
I, however, learned that I very much enjoy surprise baby chocolate birthday plaque. Tears.
The big birthday party was the next day, but the rain nixed our park plans. Too bad. The rain also made our apartment WAY too dark to take decent photos, so here are some blurry, crappy, terrible pictures of what is an adorably cute dress, let me assure you.
All in all, the day went off swimmingly, despite the rain. We had an apartment full of children (ahem...four...ahem), bellies full of food, and faces full of smiles. The kids amused themselves with a rousing game of "attack of the baby" and some good-natured jumping on the couch along with a spot of let's-lock-ourselves-in-the-closet-and-terrorize-the-cats. That was the best game.
Nom nom nom, plastic fridge farm, nom.
We topped off the revelry with gluten-free, dairy-free cupcakes that are way more delicious than that description suggests. Stellabella, the non-eater-of-food approved!
All in all, it was perfect.
Now, I promise I'll shut up about my kid's birthday. This time for realz. And you, you head on over to Mama Loves Papa and see some other cutie babies, big and small.
OMG you guys, mah baybee turns one tomorrow! And I'm totally freaking out; this whole week I've been a tears fountain, and yesterday I made a batch of cookies. There are none left. Mr. Chef ate two. I AM NOT emotional eating, OKAY? Annnnnnnd, Mr. Chef and I just celebrated our five year anniversary which I cried almost the whole way through because I loooooove you soooooo muuuuuuuuuch. And THEN Stella took her first (unassisted) steps precisely ON our anniversary, and I was like, "My little baby, you're getting so biiiiiiig I looooooove yooooou sooooo muuuuuch, you'll always be my baby. wah. Waaaahahahahhahhhhaaaa!"
So, yeah, I'm totally dealing with this whole growing-older-getting-bigger-officially-turning-into-a-toddler thing just fine. I'm so well adjusted. I did not just pour myself a second glass of super crappy cooking quality wine, and spend the whole day going, "this is the last time you'll have your morning nap as a zero-year-old" and "at precisely this time a year ago my water broke" and whatever. I'm fine. SHUTUPINYOURFACE. (wah.)
ANYWAY, because I've been busy nursing a major existential crisis, I didn't take any Small Style pictures today. So, instead I give you pictures from a Sunday at Starbucks in the park where we had a spontaneous bike ride meet up with some German friends and Stella did her usual "OMG other children! I love you! Hugs! Hugs! Hugs! Let me pull your hair!!!! AKKKK!" routine. It was cute. And the last time she was in the park as a zero-year-old. wah.
So, yeah. Linking up with Morgan at Mama Loves Papa for Small Style and trying not to cry about it, because it's JUST SO WONDERFUL FOR HER TO LINK SO MANY MOTHERS TOGETHER TO WATCH OUR CHILDREN GROW UP AND WAAAAAHHH!
Tunic = Joe Fresh
Shorts = thrifted
Shoes = Joe Fresh (boys)
Bow = I'm not too sure.
Well, that's us for Small Style this week. I'm looking forward to seeing all the other cutie pies. Oh, and did I mention, MY BABY IS TURNING ONE TOMORROW AND I'M TOTALLY FINE WITH IT??? Waaaaaah.
So, a huge developmental breakthrough yesterday (which may or may not have contributed to the sleep strike of the night before *she says sheepishly*).
Suddenly Stella points at things. Which is HILARIOUS! And cute! Witness: dinnertime yesterday, and a game of "Where's Stella"?
So, yeah. Pointing. She also points at a baby, at a cat, and like three times she pointed at my nose, which may have been a fluke given the proportion of the facial real estate it occupies. Anyway.
POINTING! It means that her receptive language skills are coming along nicely, and is certainly reassuring seeing as how she STILL is not saying anything beyond thhhbbbbbt and ahhhhAAAAAhhh! But she's a trilingual kid, so it's totally normal, OKAY, and I'm not at all worried about it, and I haven't spent ANY TIME AT ALL googleing language delays, and when I read a blog post about another mother's kid who was not pointing at one year old, I totally didn't freak out and immediately start pointing away with reckless abandon frantically trying to get my kid to point back and prove definitively that she is on track developmentally. Anyway!
In all seriousness, though, one drawback of living abroad is worrying about your kid's development. Timetables are different. Approaches to development are different. There's the whole language barrier thing. And heaven forbid if there was any kind of delay, I seriously doubt if any type of early intervention assistance would be available for us here. So, let's hope we get a "mama" soon, okay?
Until then: POINTING!
OMG Stella met that most longed-for superawesomeamazingwonderful milestone last night, a milestone that most babies reach when they're like eight weeks old or something, but whatever, she's my little snowflake, and she may be eleven months old, but all babies develop on their own schedule anyway *she says defensively* but last night for the first time, STELLA SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT!
Now, before you fall over and DIE from disbelief, we're only talking the medical definition of sleeping through the night; she stayed unconscious for five and a half hours. But still, SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT! AS IN ASLEEP AND NOT CRYING! I tell you, when she woke me, and I looked at my clock amazed by the fact that it read MIDNIGHT! I almost got up and threw her a party, but figured that would not have the desired effect of helping her learn that nighttime is for sleeping, so instead I had a silent party in my head, complete with silent noisemakers, and silent balloons, and a silent, imaginary clown. But unfortunately, I was too tired to stay awake for it.
I will also add that my excitement was tempered somewhat by the fact that she then proceeded to wake up four more times between midnight and four am, at which point she decided that HELLO! It's time to get up! There is waving to be done! And raspberries to be blown! And who is going to do the scooting if she doesn't get started on it now! The early bird gets the worm, and it’s four AM, so LET'S GO!
Still. Sleeping through the night. Yeah. I'll take it, whatever form it comes in.
Warning: Boring and banal baby-related post ahead!
With that disclaimer out of the way, I bring you this thrilling piece of news: I introduced green vegetables to my daughter's diet!
I must confess that I was unreasonably anxious about this monumental step. I am a food-snob (an incredibly picky, unadventurous food-snob, but a food-snob nonetheless). My husband is a chef. Naturally I was wracked with subconscious worry that my baby girl would reject non-sweet, non-root veg and thus foreshadow a future that included nothing but white bread, cries of ewwww, gross! and hamburger helper dinners served at 5:30 pm. A nightmare scenario.
Somehow, deep in the recesses of my brain, I had equated accepting green vegetables with the development of an adventurous palate. So I stalled, hoping to avoid facing my whitebread doom. For a good three months.
And then I came across this post on my go-to cooking blog, and somehow was fortified with the courage to try to introduce leafy greens. And, ridiculously, I was not aware of the anxiety I was carrying around until moments before the big green veg reveal.
As I gingerly scooped a quarter teaspoon of spinach-yam puree onto Stella's baby spoon, I found myself holding my breath, stomach in knots. Would she spit out the green puree? Would she turn her head away in the baby equivalent of "ewwww, gross!"?
Nope. Stella grabbed the spoon, examined the contents with her fore finger and thumb, and then shoved the whole mess into her mouth. And loved it. She then proceeded to eat two bowls full of the stuff. Which is amazing, because on a normal day I am lucky to get two spoonfuls of anything into her mouth. Yea! She likes it! She WILL BE a good eater!* I'll have a three year-old who noms curry, eats tripe, and loves sushi!**
*I am completely aware of the fact that what my kid eats now will have no bearing on what she'll accept at age three.
**You won't get a piece of sushi anywhere NEAR these lips. I once ate tripe. By accident. Almost died after. (Not really) Hell, you can barely get me to eat broccoli without gagging.
Well, It's March 1st and the 27th of February has come and gone, meaning I have neglected to mark my child's nine-month birthday in any sort of significant way, or at all, really.
From what I gather, it is convention 'round these mommy blog parts to celebrate this special day with some sort of tender, touching post along the lines of Nine Months In, Nine Months Out.
Instead, I'm just going to leave you with this remark: HOLY CELL DIVISION, BATMAN!
For the life of me, I just CANNOT understand how fast you've grown.
*lump in throat*