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.