eliza says, vol. 9

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So, Eliza got a haircut! It happened a couple weeks back, and I've already lamented to anyone who would listen so I won't go into too much detail except to say I am at peace with it now. She's a doll. 

Basically, I got a haircut a few weeks ago and ever since Eliza has been saying that she wants one, too. So, we looked at some pictures online and she picked a short bob with bangs. She wanted hair like mine, which is really sweet. So, Sam and I dragged our feet for weeks because the thought of cutting her long, beautiful baby hair made us so sad. But, one Saturday morning, Eliza and I were out on a date together when I drove past a local kid's salon. I popped my head in, thinking that they would be slammed because it's Saturday. The lady said she could be up next. So, I bring Eliza inside and immediately felt sick. I asked her over and over if she wanted to just get a trim, but she insisted she "wanted the whole hair cut." So, when it was her turn I showed the lady the picture and was still sort of stalling. But, Edna Mode there (she looked just like her) snipped off a chunk of the hair by her face because I could protest. Eliza was so patient and quiet while she cut away at her hair, and I sat on the chair next to her and just cried. I tried so hard not to make her upset or worried, but it was really tough to keep it in. Five minutes later, Eliza had a bob and a lollipop, and I had an envelope with a little lock of hair inside.

I honestly had a very hard time with it. All morning I couldn't stop staring at her, because she looked so different. Like, not my child. Let me remind you, Eliza has never had her cut. Ever. It was long, almost to her waist. It had windblown waves, and sun-bleached golden ombre highlights. So, as we ate pancakes and Eliza chattered on and on as if nothing had happened, I just stared. Then, for the next two days I couldn't look at her at all because every time I did I would burst into tears. It was pathetic and weird. Sam kept having to take the girls out, because I was sobbing in bed. It wasn't that I thought she looked ugly or something, it was that she didn't look like Eliza. She didn't look like my little girl. It was that I had taken her to do this. It wasn't like every other kid's drastic hair cut story, where they sneak a pair of scissors to hack off all their hair, and the mom has to even it out or something. No, I did this myself. It was just so drastic. 

So, yes. I hated it. I'm her mom, so I can say that. And, yes, I can also say that I will always regret cutting that hair to the day I die. Because I am her mom, and I'm allowed to be weirdly dramatic. But, I will also say that I am getting used to it. That it really is adorable. And that it seems to fit this little grown up girl that has emerged these past few months. She is a big sister, a big girl, an almost-four-year-old. She was ready for this. Just, maybe mama wasn't.

Welp, I obviously ended up going into way too much detail. Whoops.

I love these pictures because of that hair, the Darth Vader temporary tattoo on her forearm, the tiny-teeth smiles, and those eyes. Lately, I have been going back and looking at baby photos of Eliza when she was Sadie's age. And it really is amazing how their eyes never change. When I look at Eliza's age, I can still catch glimpses of my baby.

A bit of E, lately:

teacher Sara- Sara is our friend who teaches Nature School. She is also Eliza's friend Sage's mom, and she works with a really great program in Oakland that teaches science classes to girls. Eliza is obsessed and in love with her, and her family. She told us that she wants to be a science teacher like Sara when she grows up. 

family picture- The other day, Eliza told me:

"I drew a picture of our family at school. There was me, and Sadie, and Papa.... and Papa is hugging Rob..."
"Oh! Rob is in the picture?"
"Yeah. And Sara, and Sage. But, Gideon and Jasper are at school."
"Oh, is Mama in the picture"
"Oh yeah, you are in the picture, too."

So, somewhere at Eliza's school is a family picture with a whole lot of people in it.

scissors- Eliza is really into scissors lately. She has some kid scissors that she carries around the house all day. She is very serious about scissor safety, so I totally trust her. But, I find bits of cut up paper all over the house. She loves to draw things, and then cut them out individually. She loves to cut up mailers and advertisements that come in the mail. One time I found a bunch of "ransom note" style pictures where she had cut out letters from a card, mixed them up, and glued them to form made-up words. Once, she took an empty toothpaste box, and glued tiny scraps of paper and googly eyes to it. When I asked her what it was she pointed at the paper "arms" and "legs" and said, "Oh, it's a doll." 

"Bongo, Oh, Bongo. Oh, Bongo is my name."- These are the lyrics to one of the songs that Eliza will perform at her dance recital. It's about a clown that dances and laughs. She sings it all the time, and the dance is so darn cute. She also loves making up words to tunes she already knows. (She gets that from me.) So, once, Sam was trying to take a break on the pot which means that Eliza was, of course, pounding on the bathroom door and bugging him because she thinks it's funny. He got a little fed up and snapped at her through the door. So, Eliza laughed and sang, "Papa, oh Papa. Oh, Papa is so mad."

5 pounds- We love Britain around here. Sam and I watch a lot of BBC, Eliza reads Baby Lit Pride and Prejudice and watches Peppa Pig. So, when she was playing with a pretend cash register the other day, and pulled out some money to pay for something and said, "That will be five pounds"- I had to laugh.

"These ____ are not being nice!"- Sometimes I will suddenly hear exasperated screams coming from her room. I run in to find her struggling to get her tights on, crying out, "These tights are not being nice!!" Fill in the blank, she says this a lot.

siblings- I am so excited for Sadie and Eliza to play together someday. I mean, they sort of do now. Sadie adores Eliza (and fears her!) Eliza just has so much love to give. And, I can see her getting excited the more that Sadie responds. I'm mostly excited because I know how much Eliza seriously longs for sibling interaction. When we are out, and she sees siblings playing or laughing, she watches them like a little wallflower, a little smile creeping at her lips.

"I'm not happy about this."- One of her favorite sayings lately, for when she's... not happy about it.

adults- Eliza loves adults. She loves her teachers and her friends' parents. She will ask, "Can we go to Shayla's house? Can you call Ben and ask if we can come over?" (Shayla and Ben being the parents.) She loves to hold hands with the parents, and chat their ears off. Sam said she reminds him of him as a kid, always sitting at the kitchen table with the parents instead of running around with the kids. I kind of love this about her. I also love how much her teachers seem to have a soft spot for her because of this.  

questions- I return to the questions, again, because they are so defining of Eliza lately. She never stops asking questions. All day long, with every conceivable concept or topic. 

"What is water made out of?" 
"How do we get hiccups?" 
"How does the Easter Bunny bring kids treats?" 
"What happens when we die?"  
"Why does the old woman live in a shoe?"

It's really fascinating actually. She's incredibly interested in knowing how things work, and in understanding everything around her. I do my best to answer her questions correctly and with detail, because she will absolutely not accept short or vague answers. And, every question builds on the next so if I blow off one question than I might get stuck in a corner without answers. I love when she gets all the way down her list of follow-up questions to a place where she is somewhat satisfied and decides to move on. Like, when the answer becomes, "Hydrogen and Oxygen," she gives a satisfied nod and walks away. I also love when she answers her own questions, or builds on my answers. Like, "How do people get hiccups?" When I explained to her about spasms in the diaphragm, she thought for a second, looked at Sadie, and said, "Sadie must have a tiny diaphragm." 

The one thing that has been difficult is her interest in abstract ideas, or imaginary things. She is so special in that she really embraces and loves imaginary worlds- fairies, mermaids, Santa, the Easter Bunny. But, she also loves logical explanations. So, when we went on a leprechaun hunt at Nature School today by following the tiny paper footprints to find the leprechauns treasure, she could not let go of the concept even after the treasure had been distributed. She wanted to know why the feet were made of paper, where the leprechauns lived, whether or not they had arms and faces, and what they do all day. When the other kids seemed to move on, she wanted to continue to search for the leprechaun, insisting that every little bush cave we saw on the trail needed to be checked out. So, I'm grasping at answers to give her and all the while thinking, leprechauns are so creepy when you think too hard about it! I mean, "Mom, what is a leprachaun?" "Well, it's a tiny, old man... thing... that hides his treasure under rainbows..."

eight months.

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This baby is getting HUGE. Whenever I say that, people always laugh and comment about how small she is. But, trust me, this is a huge baby for my standards. I love how thick and solid she is, and that she allows you to hold her and cuddle. There's so much to cuddle! 

I call her "Chunky McChunkerson" and "my little cream puff." I don't know where this stuff comes from. Nicknames for my kids just sort of appear in my life, and I am sometimes embarrassed of them when they pop out of my mouth in public. Like, for some reason, I used to (maybe still do!) call Eliza "Chewbacca." Not because they have any sort of resemblance, or anything. I honestly don't know why. 

Anyway, Sadie is a chunk. And we love her. And she loves... FOOD. She had an epiphany a few weeks back, in which she realized that at any point in her day there is most likely food within reach. She will eat anything, and never really stops. She doesn't like it if we are eating and she is not. She doesn't like it if she can see food and it's not in her mouth. And, she really doesn't like it if you stop feeding her, even for a moment. She will start screaming at you. When it comes to food, this girl is a beast. But, really, it's so nice. I don't have to convince her to eat. She just does it... all day long. She's also very calculating, she will wait until I am not paying attention and then launch herself over the edge of the picnic blanket to grab a mouthful of clover flower. Little stinker.

A few snippets of our girl:

mover!- Sadie has finally learned how to scoot around on her belly. The problem: she can only go backward. So, she scoots herself back into corners and bookshelves all day long, and then gets extremely upset about it. When I put toys in front of her to try and get her to go forward, she only scoots further and further away from them. She still hates to be on her belly in the first place! So, mostly she sits up on the floor and plays with whatever she can reach, too lazy to actually go for anything beyond her own bubble. I'm torn with being annoyed that she won't go for it, and relieved that I still have a baby that isn't mobile!

dimples- Sadie has dimples all over that chubby, little body. My favorites are the dimples on her hands, when she reaches out to grab something. Or, when she is clutching my finger tightly. We also love those yummy dimples on her bum. It has been such a cold and wet winter here in the Bay Area. I feel like Sadie has been bundled up for her entire life. The houses and buildings around here are chilly, as well, since they are not equipped for extreme weather. So, whenever I get a chance to actually see that soft, creamy skin I am so happy. 

thumb sucker/hand hold- Sadie is really settling into her thumb sucker faze. I think it's adorable, and will gladly pay the thousands in ortho work to fix her mouth after she destroys it, because it makes her so happy and calm. Lately, she has developed the cutest, most comforting hand hold where she sucks one thumb and then uses her fingers to grip the outside of her other hand. It's so sweet. When she's just bored and sucking her thumb, she will use that free hand to tug on her ear or stroke her cheek.

worried eyes- Sadie has inherited the sweetest eyes, which many people claim come from my Dad. They tilt down just slightly. And, when she's sad they crinkle and turn down even more. We call them her "worried eyes." They show up when she is crying or sad, or feeling neglected. My favorite "worried eyes" sighting is when big sister is "playing" with her and Sadie looks over at me like, "Why are you allowing this!?"

screams- Sadie has definitely found her voice. I know I have mentioned that before, but this past month her voice has amplified times a million. She screams and screechers like an animal for no reason than to hear her own voice. She loves to pull her new vocal tricks out when we are in quiet places, like church meetings or restaurants. And, if you try and gently cover her mouth she will blow raspberries into your palm.

pinches- Remember how I waxed nostalgic about how sweet Sadie's wandering hand is when she's nursing? How she would stroke my arm or hold my finger gently. Well, lately that sweet, little wandering hand is more like a painful crab claw. She will grab folds of skin on my forearm and pinch with all her little might- which is actually pretty hard! Or, she will take her tiny thumb and dig away at my flesh with her sharp, little fingernail. Ouch, baby.

little flirt- Sadie loves to flirt and make friends in public. It makes my job easier, because they entertain her when I am standing in lines or eating at a restaurant. She has this funny fake laugh that she does when she is happy. It's kind of throaty and high. She will smile and laugh her funny laugh, and they are totally stuck because who can look away from that?!

Here is a pre-shoot outtake! Tasty baby!


christmas in berkeley.

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Following tradition, we had a "second" Christmas morning at home in Berkeley after we got back from our trip. This was the first year where Eliza was really interested in the idea of Santa. To be honest, it's so weird to me as a parent! I don't know why. It's just funny and awkward to answer all of her questions about this old man and his little elves. But, I also think it's totally a part of being a kid so I'll follow through with it.

So, when we were in Texas we suddenly realized that we hadn't made a plan to explain why her presents wouldn't show up Christmas morning. My family gave her some wonderful gifts, of course, but we hadn't brought any of her "Santa gifts" from home. So, we quickly wrote her a fancy letter from Santa explaining that she would get her presents in Berkeley and that she had been a good girl, and a good big sister. We also included a bag of Annie's Cheddar Bunnies, because that is literally all she wanted from Santa for Christmas. We actually got to visit multiple Santas around the holidays, and every time she told him, "Chedd-aw bunnies!"

The night before our Christmas morning in Berkeley, we realized we had nothing to offer Santa since our fridge and pantry had been cleared out before the trip. So, we put out an old piece of celery and a few stale graham crackers. Luckily, Santa wasn't too picky. The next morning, Eliza woke up sooo early because she was still on Texas time. It was still dark outside, so we could hardly see her reactions as she bounded into the living room. Santa brought her a pink balance bike, and she rode that thing up and down the same 15 ft stretch of our house all day long. It was raining for days, but on the second day we bundled up in rain gear and let her cruise around the tennis courts across the street. She was so excited about her bike. She rides it to school every day now, and loves taking it on bike rides with her friends on the trails around the Bay.

Other gifts of note: a mermaid for the bathtub, a book featuring her favorite stuffed animal "Eleanor the Bear" (of the Walnut Animal Society), a new fuzzy jacket, a soft nightgown, and new ballet slippers. She was so excited! Most of these things were from her very curated Christmas list that she sent to Santa. So good! I do love Santa, I guess. If not just for the letters:

Dear Santa,
I have been good this year. I like Baby. I like our family. What's with the reindeer on your sled? I go to school! I go to ballet! I don't watch too many shows or eat too many treats.
I want:
-pink bunny slippers
-a game
-a toy trolley
-a new fuzzy jacket
-mermaids for the bathtub (plastic ones, with hands)
-cheddar bunnies
-an angel dress-up
-a flower
-a butterfly clip (for my hair) (pink butterfly with pink jewels and pink sparkles)
Merry Christmas!
Love, Eliza

Sadie got a few new toys, a bonnet, and some shoes. She lounged quietly surrounded by her goods, while Eliza bounced off the walls with excitement.

Eliza LOVES holidays. She loves any sort of holiday. She loves the decorations, the activities, the crafts, the gifts, the books, the food, and the special times associated with them. Christmas is such a beautiful time of year with children. I love watching her play with her nativity, or "activity," as she calls it. I love seeing her pour through the box of Christmas books when we pull it out every year, as if she has never seen them before. I love all of the attention and excitement over the Christmas tree. I especially love helping her pick out gifts for all of her loved ones. Gift giving is, I believe, her favorite part of any sort of holiday or party. When we go to birthday parties, she will not leave until she gets to watch the birthday child open her gift, even when the parents are trying to be classy and take them home to open them or something. Eliza is such a giver.

This post is obviously very late, and there are more later-posts to come. But, I am so happy to have my little family to celebrate the holidays with. We recognize that we are extremely blessed in so many ways. And, we hope that you had a beautiful holiday season, as well!

seven months.

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This poor girl has had a cold for so long now. Or, she just keeps catching one after another. We have taken her to the doctor, but she has nothing to be concerned about. It's just sad to see her so miserable all the time. It's also been so, so rainy this winter. Our house is eternally cold and damp, and we are stuck inside most days. So, when the sun came out and the day became so deliciously warm, I stuck Sadie in a little suit and plopped her on a blanket in the garden. Even with a dripping nose and a little cough, she is such a pleasant baby. And, we are all in love with that thumb sucking. 

That little thumb is how we get cuddles. She will whine or get upset, then immediately find her thumb and snuggle into you. Eliza never sucked her thumb, so this is new. I know it's not the greatest long-term option, but right now I don't really care. It makes her so happy!

Our Sadie baby lately:

octopus arms- We call them octopus arms, because they slurp out and grab anything within reach. They shoot out and grab your plate, grab your hair, or your plastic sparkle ponies. You have to keep an eye on those little sticky fingers. Also, she is a crazy good grip.

praying hands- When she is upset, if she's not sucking on her thumb, she laces her fingers together in the cutest little praying hands fist. I just love those little hands, and her crinkly eyes when she cries.

faces- She has been so sweetly interested in faces lately. Sometimes, when she's sitting in your lap she will suddenly throw her head back so she can look you in the face, as if she just realized that you were there. Or, she will reach out with her little hands and cup them around your cheeks to study your eyes. She loves to reach out and touch Sam's scruffy beard. Oh, and she also loves to pull and pinch your face like it's made of putty. Ouch.

wandering hand- When Sadie is nursing, one arm is pinned underneath her, while the other wanders around. It makes my heart melt. Sometimes she strokes my arm, or plays with my shirt. Sometimes she scratches her hair or tugs on her earlobe. Sometimes she lets it rest on my chest, or I give her my finger and she grips it tightly. I love that wandering hand.

blanket baby- On park days, Eliza runs wild with her friends, while Sadie and I sit on a blanket. I remember this being the best age- when the baby is not quite mobile, and you can just relax on a blanket in the shade. And, Sadie is lovin' it! She spends a lot of time in the baby carrier or the carseat. Lately, I have been trying to make sure I am giving little Sadie her freedom and she is absolutely giddy about it. She rolls around, chews on random things from my bag, or sits up and plays with her toes.

big sis- Sadie loves her sister. She's pretty terrified of her, as well. But, that full-faced smile she gets whenever she spots Eliza in the room makes me so happy. Eliza is such a good helper, even if I don't ask. She will bring Sadie toys and entertain her. The other day, I found her giving Sadie a finger puppet show, with a very detailed plot line. Sadie has a special cackly laugh that she uses especially when she thinks Eliza is funny. I am so excited to see them grow together.

eliza's playlist

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This photo shoot brought to you by Eliza! She only agreed to let me take her picture if she could art direct this one. "Mama, I want you to take the picture while I do my ABCs." I was just happy to get that squinty-eyed smile at the end.

I thought I would share a bit about Eliza through a carefully curated playlist of songs that she constantly requests for living room dance parties, impromptu dress-up performances, and backseat car sing alongs. These are all songs that she considers hers, "Play mine song!" Or, "Play mine best, best song"- which is a term close to "favorite" in Eliza's world. They will always make me think of her...

God Only Knows- Beach Boys (BBC Music)

Eliza fell in love with this magical video a couple of years ago, and still requests it. She only likes this version of the song, though. It's such a beautiful video!

Shake it Off- Taylor Swift

A little T. Swift, of course. This was one of the first songs where we noticed that Eliza was singing along. She was never really into singing, until this summer or so, when we caught her singing the last word or so of each phrase. .".... cruising!.... grooving....muuuusic!... it's gonna be allright!" One of my favorites is to watch her shake it. She leans over, balls up her fists, and shakes her booty. But, the result is more like her booty stays still and her entire body moves instead.

Hello, Goodbye- The Beatles

And now we come to our series of Beatles songs. Eliza LOVES the Beatles. As you can see, her musical taste is heavily influences by Sam, which I think is so special. I love catching her singing to herself while she plays. We love to listen to her sing because she really, honestly can't carry a tune at all. But, if you listen closely to the words you can figure out which song she's singing. "Hey na, hey, hey na! Wooowooo!"

Hey Jude- The Beatles

Also known as "Hey June." This one is often requested in the car. I love hearing her tiny little voice from the backseat, just a couple beats behind the music, "Hey Joooon..."

Blackbird- The Beatles

Sometimes I walk in on Sam and Eliza dancing to this song. He holds her in his arms, with her head on his shoulder and her hair flowing down. She loves her Papa.

Sofia the First Theme Song

You know, Eliza has only seen this show a handful of times. Partially because the animation creeps me out, and because some of the characters are not my favorite examples of kindness. But, Eliza LOVES Sofia. And, so she has a Sofia dress with a funny, little hoop skirt that pops up when she bends over. And, she requests this song on repeat all day long. She knows every single word. But, it's such a fast song that she can't keep up with it. It's hilarious. So, we embrace it and belt it out with her. She loves it when we sing together.

How Far I'll Go- Auli'i Cravalho (Moana)

Eliza did NOT like this movie. We went on a date together to see it, and she asked to leave the movie twice. I was a terrible parent and didn't take her our because I was hoping it would get better, But, those darn scary monsters kept coming back! She hated that crab, and any time the lava monster came on, we covered her eyes. Looking back, I probably should have left. Whoops. Anyway, she tells everyone that the movie was way too scary. But, she does love this song. Sometimes, we belt it together in the kitchen and climb on top of the chairs with our arms stretched out like Moana. Eliza's face lights up and she can't stop smiling and twirling, and Sadie sits in her highchair and laughs at us. Some of my favorite memories of my shining girl.

She's a Rainbow- Rolling Stones

Eliza loves these Sony Bravia commercials. She used to request them all the time when she was little. Now, she calls them her own. If it comes on the radio, "That's mine song! That's the bunny song!" This song also reminds me of Sam, because we used to play it on our road trips when we were younger. We would hop in the car and drive down those red dirt roads in middle-of-nowhere Southern Utah, with the windows down, the song blaring, and the dust blowing through that old CRV. We need to do that more often.

Heartbeats- José González

Another Sony commercial that we used to show her a lot. It's the most beautiful and calming video, filmed in San Francisco. She loves this song.


Black Jack David- Loretta Lynn
We love us some Loretta Lynn around here. I love her sass and wit, and that endearing drawl. And, Eliza loves to dance with Papa to "Lella Lynn!" She doesn't know the words to her songs necessarily, but Loretta is often requested on sunny, lazy afternoons. When Sam puts this song, she shakes her head side to side while he stomps out the beat.

Eliza is getting so big. Almost every day lately, I have those weird motherly moments where I look at my firstborn with a sudden start- how did she get so big!? And, how did she get so smart? And, how did she get so beautiful? She is utterly exhausting, and some days I really don't know how to deal. And, on those days I sneak into her room and watch her sleep. I love those long, long eyelashes and those beautifully tan cheeks. I love how she sprawls out wildly, limbs in all directions, but still manages to cradle her baby doll so perfect and sweetly.

When Eliza goes to bed, she requests songs from the both of us. Lately, those bedtime songs have evolved into two specific requests- one per parent. We ask her, "What song would you like?" And she says, "The song that you always sing to me."

Teach Me To Walk in the Light

A song that she sings in her primary class at church, and one that I have been singing to her since she was born. When she was a baby, I would sing her about 15 songs in a row to get her to fall asleep. And, for some reason this was always the one I started with. So, it's now our song.

Lead, Kindly Light

A beautiful hymn, also sung at our church. Eliza calls it "Lead Kind" and only Papa can sing it. Sam is sweetly self-conscious about singing in front of me, actually. So, I sing my song first, give her kisses and leave the room. And, I let Sam sing to her while I sometimes listen to his raspy voice in the next room. 

Now that Sadie is usually already asleep in the room, we tiptoe in and sort of whisper the song over the rails of her bunk bed. She refuses to let us sing it ahead of time, but loves to be snuggled up in her covers while we sing. Oh, how I love this girl.

six months.

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Sadie baby is six months!

We are very late to post this for several reasons. It has been a tough few weeks for us, digesting the recent events in our country. Sam and I spend much of our time discussing our feelings and opinions, and trying to formulate ways in which we can make our voices heard. Most days I feel sick to my stomach. While, some days, I feel a little hope and clarity. Whatever your political leanings are, I hope that you can be aware of current events and take the time to thoughtfully consider your stances, research the issues, and make your voice heard. If this election and new administration have done any good in my life, it is to open my eyes to my responsibility in my community and country. The silver lining can be said that, for people like me who never felt the need to be "into politics," the floodgates have been opened. We are fired up.

Which is also why I am so grateful to sit down and take a moment to write about this beautiful baby girl. These girls are definitely the reason why I realized how much I do care about mine and their futures. You just can't look into those eyes and not care!

Sadie is so sweet, and brings us so much joy. Another reason that this post is late coming, is that this poor girl has been sick with a cold, and teething. The double whammy. A constant river of snot, and the saddest cries. When she cries, she stops what she's doing, forms the most perfectly shaped frown, and then slowly rumbles into a blubbery baby cry. It breaks your heart.

But, I feel like that cold is on the way out. And, while she now has two little spikes protruding from her bottom gums, the rest of the bulging teeth seem to be holding off.

Did I mention she's sleeping at night, though!? Hallelujah!! When we got back from our holiday trip, Sam and I set up shop in the living room- air mattress and down jackets. She didn't even need the sleep training, she just stopped waking up. It was amazing. We had tried sleep training a couple of months ago, and it just wasn't working. This time, she was ready. So, we moved her into Eliza's room and haven't looked back. It has been the best thing EVER. Eliza is so excited to have her baby sister sleeping in her room. And, I convinced her that it was super cool to sleep on our bed during nap time, so that she wouldn't wake up Sadie. And, it worked! Mom win.

So, even with the sick baby and the new teeth, everyone in the house is getting a glorious amount of sleep. And, we are all the better for it.

A bit about Sadie:

thumb sucker- We have a thumb sucker! I can't decide if it's the greatest or worst thing. She has always taken a pacifier, but when she got sick she was having a hard time breathing through her nose while keeping the binky in her mouth. So, one day, that tiny, little thumb found its way into her mouth and set up camp. It is, by far, the cutest thing I have ever seen. When she gets upset now she cries and cries, and then remembers her little thumb and starts vigorously sucking on it. I love to sneak into her room and watch her nap with her thumb in her mouth, that pointer finger wrapped around her nose, and those pink full cheeks.

moving- This girl is not interesting in physical activity. It's so funny to me. I don't want to compare the girls, but Eliza was such a big mover. So, when I see Sadie roll onto her belly and then just sort of give up and lay her head down in defeat, I can't help but laugh. She is not interested in getting herself out of tight spots, and she doesn't feel the need to learn how to sit up. She's just a chill, happy baby! She can roll a little, and also ends up doing the compass twirl on her belly most of the day. And, she does enjoy sitting, you just have to be right there to catch that noggin before it hits the ground.

food- She started solids, and loves it. I always try and feed her during our meals and she loves being a part of the action. So far, she's loving apples, bananas, and peanut butter. She's very smart, and picks up on things quickly. She figured out that I wouldn't feed her unless her hands were out of the way right off the bat, and just sits there with her mouth open waiting for me.

laugh- She has the best laugh. She laughs whenever you pay any attention to her. She loves when Eliza plays with her. We are in serious discussion with Eliza about not being rough with the baby, since it is sort of becoming a problem (any advice on this?) But, it's hard to tell Eliza to stop when Sadie is laughing her head off!

creamy skin- I love her creamy skin. I am still so surprised that a baby that came out of me could have such creamy skin. She is like a chubby, little porcelain doll. It's also taken some learning on my part, because her skin is so much more sensitive than mine or Eliza's. When she is upset in the least, she gets all pink and splotchy. It's so cute, but so sad!

squawks- This girl has a lot to say. She squawks when she gets bored, especially in slightly inconvenient places like meetings or church. They are high pitched and sometimes strung into sentences that extend for long stretches of awkward time.

hats- I never put hats on Eliza, but I can't help myself with Sadie's chubby cheeks. She is always wearing a hat- knit hats with pom poms, beanies with ears, bonnets with brims, and pixie hats with points. It gives me such satisfaction to tie that string around her cheeks and watch it disappear into the folds of her chins.

happy holidays!

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A little late, per tradition:

Happy Holidays!
Love, The Grays

This year, we squeezed in a family photo shoot by smuggling our camera into church a couple of weeks ago and asking a friend to grab a few shots between meetings on the front steps. That's how we do. Also, I totally chose all the photos where I happened to look my best, because I'm a selfless mom like that. It's becoming increasingly less likely that we will ever get a family photo in which we are all looking and smiling at the camera- especially with Eliza's talent for silly faces. But, what are you goin' to do??


Anyway, we want to wish you all the best in this new year. Our 2016 was beautiful and beautifully challenging. We watched Eliza grow and mature, and we enjoyed/endured our second pregnancy. (I can say "we" because everyone has to put up with those crazy lady hormones.) We were able to travel a bit and spend time with friends and family. We were blessed with many things, including a job promotion for Sam. I would also say that this year has made us feel like Berkeley is our home. We may not stay here forever, and most likely won't be able to, but I think it's the first time in our marriage where we have felt happy and content right where we are with no intentions of "moving on." We are constantly on the receiving end of so much love and support from our community here.

And, of course, we welcomed little Sadie Lee and she changed our world for the better. The girls have grown so much over the past few months, and we are really feeling like a family. I know that might sound weird, but it honestly takes me a few months to feel like I know my baby as anything but, "the baby." Sadie is one of us now, and our lives are starting to feel like, "Yes, this is the way it is supposed to be. This is the way it was always supposed to be."

When change comes around, my world gets a little rocked. It's taken me years to realize that I might not do so well with change. When we had Eliza, I had a hard time trying to expand my energy to fit all of my family's needs. In the end, Sam always seemed to get the shaft when it came to my love and energy. The past few months, Sadie has needed much of my energy. And, I continue to have that terrible "mom guilt" that everyone else down the line is really getting the brunt of my impatience and exhaustion. I'm not looking for any sort of "You're doing great." I know I'm doing ok. But, I would like to be better. 

So, my goals for this new year involve one major thing: love.

I want to love my family more. I want to be more kind, more patient, and more loving. When I become impatient, I want to think "Love first." Perhaps this will give me that 2 second pause to remember that I love this person, and allow me to choose my reaction instead of letting me heightened emotions choose it for me. 

I want to love myself. I'm hoping to rid myself of guilt each night, as I lay in bed thinking of my day. I'm hoping to be patient with myself. And, I'm hoping to take care of my mind and my body. I am forming specific plans for those last two.  

I also want to love those around us. I plan on organizing small, monthly service projects for our family to do together. And, I want to be more aware of how I can help those who really need a little extra love.

I hope that you find happiness in the coming year. Thank you for all that you do to love and support my family!

eliza says, vol. 8


Eliza has always been the girl of a million faces. Do you remember this breakfast photo shoot? The photo above is what I call the "scrunchy nose smile." It's what she does when she is up to no good and being mischievous. Or, when I get her all dressed up and ask her to smile and she wants to push my buttons. The photo below is her "salty stare." It's what she does when she is legitimately mad, or I've taken too many photos and she wants to go inside now. It is often accompanied with a foot stomp and hands on hips.

Eliza makes me laugh lately. She also makes me cry a little. Cry because she suddenly looks HUGE and is acting like a small tween, and cry because she drives me absolutely bonkers crazy. I don't have the energy to wax poetic about this miss today, but just know that I love her beyond anything imaginable. And, between her crusty stares and Sadie's crusty diapers, I am so ready to call it quits in all future baby making endeavors. 

Love you, E.

Eliza says:

"Why?"- I'm sure I have mentioned this before, but this is the question I hear 24 hours a day. Eliza is one of those "why" kids. It is simultaneously annoying and pride-inducing. I mean,  I'm proud because she has always been our curious one, and continues to grow more smart and more adventurous. 95% of the things I say are followed by a "why?" from Eliza. And every answer to a "why" is followed by a string of additional "whys." I am teaching myself to be patient and answer her questions. It makes me think about what the answer actually is, because I would rather teach her the correct answer than something made up. But, really I can only answer about five "whys" in a row before I trail off with a typical, "Just because!"

"Eliza"- I know I have also mentioned that Eliza prefers her preschool teachers to pronounce her name in Spanish. Well, apparently she has been correcting several adults on this matter. When she went to church recently, they introduced her as Eliza and she said, "No, my name is E-lee-sa." To the point that I watched one of her friends trying to get her attention at the park, "Eliza! Eliza!.... E-LEE-SA!"

"Never, ever!"- Eliza has always been a bit dramatic. When she is upset now, she runs into her room and slams the door and then wails about how hard her life is. She includes several "Never, ever, evers." Such as, "I never, ever, ever want you to be my mama ever, ever again!" She also likes to make sure the neighbors are well aware of the fact that, "My mama is not being nice!!"

sharing stickers- Eliza LOVES stickers. But, the second she gets her hands on a sheet she immediately pulls them all off one by one and distributes them to the people around her. This may include Sadie or her own baby dolls. Also, my rear as I walk past, and don't discover until I have already been to five stores that day with a huge Elsa sticker stuck to my pants. The stickers then float around the house on dirty laundry, or stuck to the bottoms of our socks. And then they die in the washing machine. She also like to remind us of the rule, "No stickers on Sadie's skin, only on her clothes." This rule was implemented after she covered Sadie's face in stickers and they left little heart-shaped welts when removed. Poor baby sister.

fortune cookie- Eliza got a fortune cookie, and asked me to read the fortune for her. I read, "Someone you know and admire will honor you soon." I watched her work that over in her head, and then she replied. "Hmm, maybe it's Sage.... Or, Jesus."

singing- Eliza has recently found a love for singing. She has always loved us to sing for her, but she never wanted to sing herself. But, now, you can find her singing several favorite songs a day. Mind you, this child has absolutely no sense of tone or tune. And, when she is singing along to the music, she is always about five words behind. I love it. At her preschool holiday show, they sang three songs for the parents. She got bored in the third round of Feliz Navidad and started shimmying a little, which progressed into a few very well-placed and technically beautiful pliés. She flashed a huge smile at me, and then finished the verse off with a rousing, "from the bottom of my heaaaaaarrrrrtttt!"

hand and head gestures- Sometimes when Eliza is telling a story she adds in the funniest hand and head gestures. She often tilts her head to the side and bobs it up and down while she talks. Then, puts one hand on her hip and has the other hand waves around to add emphasis.

"Can you believe it?"- She tacks this saying on to her statements often. "We got to go outside to play, can you believe it?!"

prayers- Our church organized a really great calendar leading up to Christmas, in which you were asked to follow Christ's example "25 ways in 25 days." Many of the challenges were service-oriented. Eliza and I really enjoyed doing these, and I felt like like it changed the way we see and do things on a daily basis. It gave us the opportunity to look around us and find ways to serve others, and provided some really nice teaching moments for our family. The sweetest result of those daily service opportunities were Eliza's prayers. She has included a string of requests in her prayers, and still says them each night- "Please bless the people who don't have houses, and the people who don't have glasses. Please bless the people who are sick..."

"Papa's energy"- We donated a few bags of feminine hygiene products to a local shelter, and Eliza had some questions. "What are those?" "Well, these are things that mamas need to take care of themselves. And some mamas don't have any, so we are going to give them some." "Oh... do they turn into babies?" "No, they don't." "Oh yeah, because the papa's 'energy' goes in to the mama and that turns into a baby." (said very matter-of-factly) What!? I seriously have never explained it to her like that. It's now our favorite thing to quote, Sam and I. The "papa's energy"!

memory- Eliza has a mind like a trap. She can remember every single detail from any part of her life. She will be babbling on about some story, and I have no idea what she's talking about. Then, an hour later, I realize she was recalling something from two years ago... as in, when she was a year and a half old. She won't let you forget anything either. Especially hollow promises, like treat bribes. 


five months.

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Sadie Lee is five months! If it's possible, this little one is only getting sweeter. I started calling her my little baby doll, because she is exactly what I imagined a real baby would be like when I was young. She lets you cuddle with her, and hardly complains at all when you squeeze her. I tote her around town all day, and when people stop to say hello, she graciously flashes her precious, little smile. When she nurses, she curls up and settles into my lap with her smooth head nestled in the crook of my arm. Sometimes, when she wakes up from a nap, we just lay together in my bed and she tells me all about her baby dreams, babbling happily to herself.

I have also been joking that, while Eliza has been sort of destroying me during the day with her high emotions and tantrums, this little baby right here has been slaying me at night. I hate to say it, but I have not been my best self these days, from lack of sleep. We attempted some sleep training, but it didn't catch on the way it had with baby Eliza. And, our tiny house is just not conducive. We spent a couple of weeks sleeping on an air mattress in the freezing living room, before we finally gave up and retreated back to our bedroom. It got too cold at night, Sadie wasn't catching on, and the Christmas tree took over the living room. Also, with the holidays looming, I knew that any training we achieved right now would fly out the window during our travels. So, we are going to give it another go in January and hope for the best. For now, I will try to remember that someday teenage Sadie may never want to cuddle with me, much less every 1.5 hours in the middle of the night. Right??

I decided I wanted to take pictures of Sadie in her tiny crib this month because I wanted to remember this time in our life. This time when we are living in a little two bedroom house in Berkeley, with two kids. Where Sadie is sleeping six inches from my face, and we have sound machines blasting in both bedrooms to cover up the household noises, as well as the trains that run along the track four blocks away. Our little house that has one bathroom- a "jack and jill," connecting the two bedrooms. So that, at night when you have to pee, you play a game of roulette trying to decide if it's worth it to wake up either girls by crossing through the room, and which one do you risk. And, you definitely don't flush or the game is up!

I want to look at that picture of little Sadie bathing in the sunlight from the window and cry because I so wish that a baby was sleeping six inches from my face for the rest of my life! I love my happy family, and my happy, little home.

Things I want to remember:

her voice- Sadie has found her voice. And, she loves to use it. She shrieks and squeals, and grunts with a purpose. Sometimes it takes people off guard, it's funny.

her cheeks- Those cheeks are so chubby and firm. When she smiles, they shine like little apples and make her face look so round, if almost square. And, I am obsessed with putting bonnets on her head because the ties frame her cheeks and disappear into the folds of her neck.

her thighs- She has the chunkiest thighs. And since she is still fairly petite, her thighs just sort of take up her entire leg. She has outgrown size 1 diapers, and we are desperately trying to finish up the last box by streeeeetching them over those thighs- and regretting it later when she leaks through. Whoops! Also, sometimes I call her "Chunky McChunkerson" and Sam says I'm going to give her a complex. And, I tell him, her only job right now is to grow and I'm just complimenting her on a job well done.

her laugh- Sadie has the best laugh. It's low and growly, and sometimes she combines it with a funny cough. She laughs at Eliza and other kids, and when you play with her. And basically anytime you give her even the slightest bit of love, she will return it with a beautiful smile or a belly laugh.

grabby- She loves to grab now. She finally reached the age where she loves to play with toys, which has made my life all the more easy. She gets really serious when you hand her something- slowly reaching out her little fingers until they make contact. If you hold her during a meal, she will grab at your plate and food. And, she loves to clutch onto any hair that comes her way. She also loves anything that makes noise when you crinkle it. So when we are grocery shopping, I will throw a bag of something on her lap and she will crinkle, crinkle for the entire shopping trip.

belly roll- The second you put her down on her back, she will roll over onto her belly. She used to immediately get super mad, and Eliza got really good and going over and rolling her back- like a little beetle bug, but opposite. Eliza would laugh and say, "Sadie!? Why do you keep rolling on your belly?!" Now, she doesn't mind being on her belly so much and is starting to explore movement just a bit. But, when she gets tired, she will sort of just lay her face down in the rug and grunts.

Eliza and Sadie- Eliza is still learning about how to treat Sadie. Honestly, she's a little abusive, and we are working on that. Sometimes, Sadie will sort of shake a little when she knows Eliza is coming her way. But, mostly she gets so excited when Eliza plays with her, even when it hurts. haha

Is it conceited if I say I make some insanely beautiful children? I don't care. I do, and they are. :)

bonny doon.

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For my birthday last month, Sam took the family to the little town of Bonny Doon. It's a tiny town that basically consists of a few local businesses right on Highway 1. He found a great place on Airbnb- a home on a ranch in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was the perfect birthday present. He watched the girls all weekend, while I laid around in bed and finished an entire book. We went on a hike in the dunes, and played on the beach. We ate seafood at a cute roadhouse in town, where the employees were so nice to us even when our kids were being wild. 

Motherhood has gotten the best of me lately (more on this later). I hadn't had a good night's sleep in months. And, my birthday was the same week as the election. Emotions were running high, and I was feeling pretty low. So, it was really great of Sam to step in and take care of all of us, giving me the rest I needed. Also, the house didn't have service, and I actually "lost" my phone- meaning I couldn't remember when I used it last, and chose not to look for it until we left. I don't think I could have gotten through that post-election weekend without unplugging for a bit. The ocean can make you forget everything. This particular spot was mesmerizing. We stopped at a cliff that overlooked a beach, where the shallow water stretched out for so long and you could follow a single wave spread so smoothly until it dissolved onto the sand. 

Thank you all for the birthday wishes! And, thank you Sam for taking your girls on a much-needed get away!