My Baby is ONE

Exactly one year ago at 12:11 pm, after a not-so-magical delivery, Luna was born. That little red bundle with blonde hair and a huge lump on her head from the vacuum was placed in my arms. That’s the moment that will forever change me. That’s when I became “Mom”. As I type my eyes are welling up with tears, so bear with me as I try to get through this without a ridiculous amount of sentimental cheesiness. My baby is one. ONE. How does this happen so all of a sudden?

I swear she is still this small!
I swear she is still this small!

There are several memories and moments over the last year that I could gush about, but I just want to write about two very special memories. At this big one-year milestone, these two memories seem the most significant.

baby luna

Luna was born about 3 weeks early. She was forced out because of my blood pressure, and I couldn’t help but wonder Is she ready? When I held her for the first time I looked at all her toes, fingers and features and everything seemed right and ready, except her eyelashes. Luna had no eyelashes. I thought, that’s it, that’s all she was waiting for…eyelashes. They seem so insignificant, but to me they were the one thing reminding me that she wasn’t fully ready to arrive. She needed a little more time.

Each morning, the first thing I did was check her lashes. Every single day,  they grew substantially. As we bonded in the hospital those first ten days I couldn’t help but stare at her lashes. I tried hard to memorize every little curve of her tiny red face, but her eyelashes will always be what I remember most. The rate at which they grew amazed me and comforted me. She was growing. I was sustaining her, and her eyelashes proved it. I still stare at them in awe, like, “I did that… I grew that baby, and those long lashes”.

sleep baby

The next memory is about a week later. We were home from the hospital, and like every new Mom I was exhausted and overwhelmed. One night, I was trying to lull her to sleep by singing and for some reason only “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” would come to mind. Desperate for song ideas, I grabbed my phone, opened Pandora and searched for a “lullaby” station. (BTW, this is a great station!) I walked her around the room gently patting her back and singing along with the music. Then, a popular current ballad began playing that caught me by surprise.

bath baby

The song A Thousand Years by Christian Perri played and though I’ve heard this sound a thousand times, the lyrics spoke to me for the first time. The song began…

Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave?
How can I love when I’m afraid to fall?
But watching you stand alone,
All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow.

Without thinking, I began singing along, but after the first few lines, I stopped in my tracks. My eyes filled with tears. I looked at that beautiful baby girl in my arms and thought, I have loved you for a thousand years. This song suddenly made so much sense. It didn’t sound like a mushy romantic love song from Twilight anymore. It was describing exactly how I felt at that very moment, holding my crying baby, exhausted, scared but so in love with that tiny little human in my arms.

Time stands still
Beauty in all she is
I will be brave
I will not let anything take away
What’s standing in front of me
Every breath
Every hour has come to this

Right there, in Luna’s nursery, I completely fell apart. I cried and cried, not because I was sad or scared, but because the lyrics were a reflection of those first couple of weeks. I have loved this beautiful baby my entire life, and always will.  (Also, I was incredibly hormonal…) Anyways I still can’t hear this song without getting teary eyed.

Recently, I was trying to think of what to do with the dozens of videos we have taken with Luna with our phones over the last year, and when this song came on the radio, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

ny baby

So, hear it is, a year with Luna…

Happy Birthday Baby Girl! We love you more than you can ever imagine.

Cheers!

Luna is 9 Months Old!

9 months

9 months. Where is time going? How is to going so fast?? This child brings so much joy, adventure, challenges and love to our lives everyday. I am constantly surprised by her and I swear I fall more in love with her all the time. I could stare at her all day and I love watching her learn more and more as each week passes, but I also just want to press pause for a moment. There are certainly times I get exhausted and frustrated (diaper changes with a wiggle worm and night time with a Mama’s girl), but then she smiles or laughs or sleeps in my arms or learns how to stand, and I just want to remember that moment forever and ever.

happygirl

This month has been a busy one. Luna went to her first art museum, where she learned to paint for the first time. We all went to Gentry Farm to pick out Luna’s first pumpkins. Then, there was our big trip to NYC, where Luna had MANY firsts. She’s also been to the zoo for the first time (and second time), ran the Boo Bash Dash, had a few playdates, visited Cheekwood, and actually slept through the night one night! (That last one is possibly the biggest accomplishment of all.)

ghost

I swear this child has done more in 9 months than I did the first 20 years of my life. Lucky duck.

so big

She is a speed crawler and a cruiser these days. She is FAST and gets into everything…including, but not limited to, dog food, cat food, chocolate, muffins, my underwear drawer, anything that’s plugged in and pretty much anything she shouldn’t touch. She is eating more solids foods, like cheerios (and pet food, unfortunately), and has even had some Mexican food. I am 99% sure she has said “Mama” to me on more than one occasion, and she is definitely understanding words like, “mama”, “more”, “no” and “Luna”. She even understands some sign language, but has yet to sign to me.

I can’t believe it’s already time for the holidays, and will be Luna’s first birthday soon after! So many things to look forward to!

Cheers!

8 Months Seems to Be the Magic Month

8 months

I am in shock at how much Luna has changed this month, just the past couple of weeks really. She is crawling all over the place, pulls up to standing on absolutely anything within reach, climbs up steps and has even stood on her own a few times. It’s way too much, too fast. Once she discovered she can crawl she started doing more and more everyday. I swear if I leave her in the middle of the carpet with a stuffed animal for two seconds, she’ll manage to get an electrical chord, a knife, a valuable piece of jewelry and my cell phone in her hands. That kid is ninja. She also sprouted two teeth this last week! I’m afraid she’s going to be driving by the end of the week.

It was near impossible to snap of photos of her today. She is constantly on the move!
It was near impossible to snap of photos of her today. She is constantly on the move!

Over the last month Luna has begun “talking” nonstop. She babbles new syllables all the time. She growls, squeals, laughs, blows raspberries, hums and is surprisingly loud. I’m also 94% sure she said “mama” to me a couple of weeks ago and then said “dada” to Peter last week. It hasn’t’ happened again though, so I can’t be sure.

teething

She has now been to 3 other kid’s birthday parties and a few adult birthday parties as well. (Birthday season has begun.) We go to Whole Foods once a week for kids’ hour, the library and the park all the time. She has celebrated Rosh Hashanah, met some new friends and is an incredibly social and happy baby. She couldn’t make me any happier.

eyes

Well….unless maybe she slept all night. Yeah, that would definitely make me a little happier. In fact, it’s almost midnight now, she’s sleeping and I’m not. I should probably cut this one short. Night Night.

Cheers!

What Money Can’t Buy You…

I have taught in very different types of places with very different types of families over the last six years, and have heard a similar question after each experience:

What are the parents like?

That’s actually a much kinder version of the various similar questions I was actually asked.

When I taught in a low-income, high-crime, gang-ridden, mostly minority town in Texas I was often asked, Are all the students raised by their grandparents? and Are any of the parents involved at all?

When I taught low-income, mostly white students in Tennessee I was usually asked, Do your students get any help/discipline/care at home?

When I taught oversees in Albania at an International school the questions became more positive, Are all the parents super involved and much more appreciative there? 

While teaching extremely wealthy over-privileged children in New York’s Upper East Side I usually heard, Are are all the students raised by nannies? Are they all spoiled brats?

It was in New York that I began reflecting on all of these questions. At first I was shocked and appalled that everyone assumes that families are less involved, less educated, less caring and worse parents in the U.S. Most people automatically assumed that parents are better at their job in Europe, why is that?

Then, I was angry that so many people concluded that low-income families and wealthy families are equally bad at raising their children.

Finally, I became disappointed in myself. I often vented to friends and family about the hardships I dealt with in the classroom and failed to acknowledge the wonderful experiences I had with many families.

Now, I want to set the record straight. No amount of money, lack of money or geographical location makes a good parent, or a bad parent.

In every single school I taught I had to handle difficult parents. I had meetings with chid-protective services, angry emails with misspelled words and cursing, parents doing lines of coke on the premises, parents who had no respect or faith in their own children, parents in jail, parents who should be in jail, racist parents, sexist parents, lying parents, uncaring parents, unhelpful parents, step-parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle parents, nanny parents, you name it I’ve dealt with it.

However, in every single school I had wonderful experiences with families. I had parents volunteer to read to my struggling students on their mornings off, parents come in after school to help me decorate for celebrations, parents who wrote me hand-written thank you letters, parents thanking me with tears in their eyes, parents who would drop anything, do anything, give anything if it meant helping their child, parents who do all that if it meant helping any child, parents who stayed home to spend quality time helping their kids become amazing people, parents who worked numerous jobs to give their kids experiences they never had and parents who were so freakin’ awesome I only hope I can live up to half of their standards.

It does not matter where you live or what your income is to kids. All children need is your love, support, respect, help, belief in them and discipline. It’s pretty simple. No amount of toys or lack of extra special expensive after school programs compares to those basic needs.

It’s time we stop judging families who are different from our own, and start supporting each other. Parenting is hard for everyone, so stop assuming that the single-mother who looks like a wreck every morning is unable to properly care for her children. Maybe she is exhausted from night-shifts  she works so she can be with her children before and after school. Don’t assume that Nanny is the only one caring for the kid in the stroller. Perhaps the parents both work in order to afford their life and health insurance while simultaneously paying off student loans. That Dad on his cell phone carrying the girl in mis-matched clothes with tomato sauce down the front might be on the phone with doctors trying to save his wife’s life. Maybe these parents need a helping hand. Maybe most parents are doing the best they can, and the few that aren’t need our help and some good examples.

I always say that you really get to know your students after meeting their parents. Often, I am guilty of judging a family before I even know them. It’s a constant battle to stop judging, but it’s one I am willing to always fight.

Whenever, Husband and I become parents I hope to respect, help and get to know the parents I meet along the way, and maybe get the same in response. It’s hard enough raising a dog and a Husband. So, on the morning I show up to drop-off  in my PJ’s, hugging my large coffee, with one eye lined and a crying child yelling that I burnt her breakfast again, I’ll prefer a helpful hand or knowing smile. Don’t judge.

Cheers!

A Really Bad Day That Was Actually The Best Day

Alright, let me give you the reader’s digest of my day yesterday, Thursday, March 14th to be exact….

I slept for exactly zero hours. That’s right after a dose of  hydrocodone and NyQuil I NEVER went to sleep. Instead of sleeping I coughed all night, coughed until I had to puke. At 6am, our landlord called to say there was water leaking in the apartment below us and it was probably coming from our apartment.

6:30am, the super came up to check our pipes.

7am, the plumber came over, and left, and came back, and left, came back, left, etc.

7:30am, groceries were delivered.

8am, I called in sick.

Around 1pm, I decided I felt better enough and stir crazy enough to go to work. (I was obviously delirious.)

After teaching a few classes I felt sick enough to leave and go straight to the doctor (and you know I must have felt really sick to go to the doctor!)

Then, my obnoxious Aunt Flow decided to make a surprise appearance at the most inappropriate time possible. She’s famous for surprise visits. Just lovely.

This day appears bad, but it’s missing one very important detail. I will remember absolutely none of the bad details from this day. Nope, the one thing that I will remember is that my very first nephew was born. That’s right, yesterday morning Micah Liam graced us with his presence. Turns out that being sick and up all night was a blessing in disguise. I got to FaceTime with my sister while she was in labor at 5am, and tell her how much I love and miss her! Once he was born, I was able to watch as he lay on her chest and looked straight into the iPhone as if to say “Hey there Aunt Hilarie!” .

me honey

I saw my parents become the most adorable and proudest Grandparents ever. Seriously, at 2 hours old they were already bragging about how smart he is! They are so in love with this little man. I saw my Brother-in-law hold his son for the very first time, and I saw my sister become a Mother! It was magical, and thanks to the flu and FaceTime Husband and I got to be a part of it all!

pawpaw adrian

Congratulations Sis, Bro, Mom and Dad! Our world will never ever be the same! I’m just a big ball of cheese and love today!!!

Cheers!

Cowboy Take Me Away

Every now and then a girl just needs to get out of the big city, and out to the country. I love Manhattan’s skyline, city lights, and constant flow of excitement, but sometimes I need a big yard, starry skies, and the sounds of nature. If there is any polar opposite of New York City, it is Southeast Texas.

Since, my arrival (4 days ago), I’ve made a nice long list of Southern Vacation Achievements. It goes as follows:

-1 barbeque

-15 puppy cuddles

-4 bubble baths

-1 book finished

-5 movies watched

-3 babies kissed and hugged

-4 friends visited

-2 parents happily spoiling me with junk food and cable television

-12 episodes of Keeping up The Kardashians

-16 episodes of Sex and the City

-1 husband with a stomach virus…no bueno

-1 workout session

-87 mosquito bites

-2 four wheeler rides

– 108 times I’ve said “yall”

-1 sunburn

-1 awesome drive on my own with the radio blaring and me giving my best Mariah Carey impression. (Oh, how I miss driving!)

AND ZERO AMOUNTS OF TEX-MEX FOOD CONSUMPTION

How is this possible?!?!?!

One of the best things about coming home is the abundance of Mexican restaurants. There must be one every 20 feet. I can’t throw a stone without hitting a Casa Ole, a Tequilla’s, or a Rancho Grande.

This is serious. I only have 3 days left to gorge myself on tacos and chips and salsa. Let the fiesta begin, and the list grow longer!

Salud!

Mom and Dad Take NY

Day Two in NYC with the parents was a smash! We headed to SOHO first thing in the morning, and we decided to have Subway surfing contests the whole way there. The rules are to stand without holding on to anything and see who can last the longest without moving or falling over. We made it extra challenging by keeping our feet together. (I don’t think we had any winners in this game…)

When we got to to SOHO we were starving, so we took them straight to our favorite restaurant…Tacombi! I was soooo over the moon excited that they actually had a tamale maker working! I have been wanting for their vegetarian tamales for what seems like ages, and they always tell me, “our tamale maker is out”…until today; which shall now be declared Tamale Day!

Tacombi was delicious, as always.

After stuffing our faces with tacos and guacamole, we shopped around SOHO for a while before heading to Chinatown and giving the parents a very cultural experience.

Not only did they get to shop around all the Chinese vendors and food carts, but we took them behind alley ways and locked doors to see the “real” stuff that is secretly sold in Chinatown. We didn’t make any purchases, but it was definitely fun to be taken through locked doors, and then watch a young man add “gucci” and “prada” tags to the bags while we shopped around him.

We left the Chinese purse dealers to visit the 9/11 memorial. We wanted to avoid the long lines and the hassle of removing all our metals and valuables, so we did the free viewing from a large building across the street. Outside said building (that I keep forgetting the name of) is a large courtyard area with a waterfront view. A perfect spot to relax in the sunshine.

Next, we headed downtown to Battery Park to get a glimpse of Lady Liberty. After zooming in to get a close-up of our most famous statue, we took a short walk to the Charging Bull at the bottom of the Financial District, walked to Wall St., and saw a few Occupy Wall St. protestors. They are looking pretty sad lately, we can only spot a few at a time. I think they’re endangered.

So at this point we were all starving, desperate to sit down, and completely unable to find a working subway! Every subway in the financial district was closed for repair, or some lame excuse like that. Eventually we gave in and took a taxi to Lombardi’s, America’s first pizzeria. And likely the America’s best pizzeria. We managed to eat two large pizzas and a carafe of sangria in record time.

We were so exhausted when we got back that we literally passed out together on the couch.

It’s hard to believe we woke up at all the next day! But, we did, and possibly managed to walk even further. Read all about it tomorrow!

Cheers!