Sabtu, 29 Desember 2012

Christmas trip

Dear Scarlett,
What a Christmas we had. We were in Chicago with Nonnie and Pops and basically my entire side of the family. Santa had to bring you a suitcase this year, so you could haul all your loot back to San Francisco. You got books, clothes, stuffed animals, a sit and spin, art supplies, temporary tattoos, puzzles, and cowboy boots. I got The Heart is a Lonely Hunter from my Secret Santa (Shishie) and a day at the spa from Nonnie. It was a fantastic holiday, despite the fact that you were still recovering from an ear infection. On the last day of your antibiotic, you suddenly sprouted hives all over your body. On Day 2 they traveled to your face and you looked like a (very cute) little puffball. We took you to the doctor three times in one week, and you seem to be in better shape now.

But those ears! They just keep getting infected, and we are now following Dr. Becker's suggestion to eliminate gluten and dairy from your diet. This is apparently the new thinking in pediatrics, and was seconded by the doctor we saw last week. I've been off of gluten for more than 7 months after testing positive for an allergy, so I am actually convinced that this will mostly be easy, even though you are a dairy queen of the highest order. The real issue will come when we go out for a meal and try to order something that is not grilled cheese or macaroni and cheese. Or a spoon and cheese.

Also, we are not allowed to call it a diet and are not supposed to mention to you that you are eating different food. Tonight you had [gluten-free] chicken tenders and broccoli for dinner, and [almond milk] ice cream for dessert. You were quite pleased, finishing everything on your plate. We'll try this diet for a couple of weeks and see what happens. Dad is skeptical, since we're not actually sure what should happen, and therefore what success might look like. But we're willing to try, because I think the next conversation is going to be about putting tubes in your ears.

But back to Christmas. I have to admit that I barely saw you. When Nonnie and Pops are around, you don't really let me or Dad put you to bed, get up with you in the morning, dress you, or look directly at you. You are Nonnie's girl. On our last morning, I came into your room to find the two of you fast asleep in each other's arms. And I am not complaining about sleeping those extra hours every day. That really made it feel like a vacation. We got to see most of our Oak Park friends, and you especially enjoyed a dinner out with Sigrid, and a play date at Amanda and Dan's house.

Today you told me, "Amanda's friend did not hug you."

"Who didn't hug you?" I asked.

"NO," you said. "YOU. Amanda's friend did not hug YOU."

"Who is Amanda's friend who didn't hug me?"


Ah yes, Amanda's good friend Noah, also known as her two-year-old son. We exchanged a high five at the end of the morning. The things you notice are fascinating to me. I actually feel like I got lots of hugs and love on our trip. We had a delicious Christmas Eve dinner at Aunt Carolyn's house, with something like 40 people. You were a big hit in your sparkly blue dress, and when you left early with Pops, you blew everyone kisses and began belting out a song on your way out. Later you told me that you had a tantrum in the car and cried and cried. You are always telling on yourself.

So we're back home in San Francisco, and the exciting news is that Nonnie and Pops will be moving here for two months to take care of Baby Jack while Shishie goes back to work. They have their own apartment in a great neighborhood and we will get to see them all the time. I just hope I get to see you, too.


Senin, 19 November 2012

Walk with Me, Suzy Lee

Dear Scarlett,
In August, Dad and I went to the Outsidelands festival in Golden Gate Park. It was a three-day concert, with tons of different bands, and it was, in true summer San Francisco fashion, cold. But we went every single day, leaving you with Nonnie, Pops, Shishie, Uncle Rob, Uncle Mike, and the very new Baby Jack. My legs were starting to get weaker (and they're never very good when it's cold), so Dad helped me walk from stage to stage. Some of them felt like they were miles apart, but we saw every act we had planned to see. Amadou and Mariam were one of my favorites, along with Sigur Ros, Of Monsters and Men, and Beck. On the main stage on Sunday, we saw Jack White sing We're Going To Be Friends, and right there, in the middle of that freezing park stuffed with all of those other people, I started to cry. The song just made me think of you, starting school that month and growing up.

I'm not one of those people who wishes that babies didn't grow. Nonnie says that sometimes to you and Baby Jack, that you should please slow down and stop growing so fast. And I know she only means it in the best of ways, she just loves you so much the way you are now. But I love to see you grow, love to see the new things you can suddenly do, and the changing patterns of your words and skills. I am terribly excited to have a real conversation with Jack that doesn't involve me reading to him from the nearest magazine while he tries to nurse on my shoulder (although I love that, too.)

I think what made me cry was the feeling that you are going to start having experiences that I can't fully control, that I'm not even present for. That you will make new friends and that this will be wonderful, but will also leave you vulnerable in a way that makes me kind of uncomfortable. I never want to see you hurt or sad, even though I know it's ridiculous to imagine that you won't be, or that you can't handle it. I once read that parenting is not for the faint of heart, that if you don't want to see your children upset, you are in the wrong business. And of course, meeting new people and becoming your own person is a good thing.

In the weeks leading up to you starting preschool, I was mostly just excited. And now that I see how much you love it, it's just another thing in our life that makes me happy. You are fine being away from me and Dad, completely confident and secure in the fact that I will always be there to come get you at the end of the day. In fact, that's exactly what you say: "Mommy always comes back." That's what I said to you the very first time I left you at Recess with a babysitter.

And to be honest, I think this was another reason that I cried. Because time is passing, and with it, certain things are becoming less certain. My illness is a part of our everyday lives, but I don't think you're hyper aware of it yet. I guess part of me does want to hold on tight to what we have now. But another, bigger part knows that we have so much more to look forward to. You're going to continue to amaze me with your feistiness and your new abilities. And I promise you that I will do everything I can to show you what it means to be strong.

Last week, we were in the kitchen making breakfast. You were cracking eggs, I was trying to figure out what to do with a pan full of bacon grease, and I heard you start to sing. "Books and pens...Suzy the tree. I can tell that we are gonna be friends." I asked how you knew that song, and you said Daddy taught it to you. I looked over at you, and to my surprise, I just started laughing.


Senin, 12 November 2012


Dear Scarlett,
Your new favorite thing to do is dress up. This includes putting on your Halloween costumes in November, trying on every one of my shirts, wearing your cousin Danielle's bra, and dancing around Gap Kids with ill-fitting sweater dresses sausaged over your own clothes. Most mornings, you change your clothes no less than 5 times, and you are a big fan of polka dots, which you refer to as "plums." But by far, the best new article of clothing in your collection is a zebra coat from Nonnie.

Your ability to converse with us completely blows me away. You've always been verbal, but now you're telling lengthy stories and chatting like a little adult. You still think adding the word "poop" to any sentence is hilarious. Here is a brief conversation from this morning:

You: Mommy, there is cat vomit--watch out!

Me: Where? I don't see it.

You: It's in the living room. It is round and poopy. Come see it.

[We go to the living room. There is nothing there.]

You: Oh, maybe it is behind the bench. Let's check it out.

[It is not behind the bench. You made the whole thing up. I tickled you and you laughed like crazy.]

Last week, I took you to vote on Election Day. It was right around naptime and, after posing for a few pictures with my secret ballot folder, you threw a sign at the nice man in charge and then pulled all of the voter pamphlets out of their drawers and flung them onto the ground. That is not democracy in action, Scarlett, that is just anarchy. I took you home. That night I went out for sushi with Amy and Rebecca, and toward the end of our dinner, we found out that President Barack Obama had been reelected! It was big, exciting news, and a step in the right direction for the kind of future I want you to have: one full of opportunity, choices, self-worth, and lifelong learning. Plus a sweet wardrobe.

I love you,

Sabtu, 13 Oktober 2012

From me to you

Dear Readers,
First off, thank you for reading the blog. Obviously, if I just wanted to write private letters to my daughter, I wouldn't do it on the Internet. But it's fun for me to share the moments in our lives and all of her milestones and antics, which is why I do it in this public way. Over the course of Scarlett's 2.5 year life, there have been things I have kept to myself (many of them involving potty training). Actually, I've often thought that I would take the blog down completely at some point while she's still young so that there's no (or little) chance of it coming back to embarrass her. Of course, I would save the letters for her. But for now, the purpose of the blog is as much to keep people updated on our lives as it is to leave a journal for Scarlett.

Which brings me to this next part. There is something major that I've kept off this blog, and I want to share it now. This summer I was diagnosed with a neurological disease called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS.) You may know it as Lou Gehrig's Disease, or you may not know it at all. I didn't. I had heard of it, but really had no idea what it meant to the people who had it and to their families. Now I know far too much about it, and yet still not enough, because no one knows why I have it or how to cure it. It started last summer when I just kept falling. Such embarrassment! I fell going up the stairs, I fell going down the stairs, I fell when I was trying to jog, I fell when I was pushing Scarlett's stroller along a perfectly flat street. Rob was incredulous, but not worried. He thought I had too much on my mind, that I wasn't paying attention, that maybe I needed different shoes. My grandmother told me I was too thin. But everyone agreed that I should see a doctor. So I went to a nurse practitioner in September of 2011, after months of random falls. She did some blood work and a few weeks later, I got a letter in the mail saying that my levels all looked good and there was nothing wrong. I decided to try running again. I could get about three minutes into a run before my feet simply stopped lifting off the ground. It was ridiculous. I, who have run marathons, could make it only a few blocks. OK! ONE marathon. Still.

I had always envisioned myself getting back into running shape after Scarlett's birth. I joined a stroller fitness class when she was 6 weeks old, and huffed and puffed around Alamo Square and Buena Vista Park with a handful of other like-minded moms. It felt great. But I never really had a good, long, productive run. I wish I could remember my last good run.

I consoled myself with thoughts that this was something that would go away, that I just needed to get out there more often and train my old, achy body again. I had just turned 33. So on a trip to Chicago to visit my parents, I set off on a run to my grandma's house. It was a run I've done a hundred times, about a mile. When I was in good shape, I would run all through town, hit the high school track for a few miles, and then end up at my grandparents', high on endorphins and fresh air. This time, I couldn't make it more than two blocks before I had to walk. Determined to get through this, I picked up running again after a couple of minutes and bit it--hard--right across from my former junior high school. I had been out on my feet for about 12 minutes. With blood trickling from my knees, I decided I couldn't show up to visit Nana, so I walked home, angry and frustrated.

When I got back to San Francisco, I saw another nurse practitioner, who sent me to a podiatrist. I had decided that I had a pinched nerve, and the podiatrist thought that might be the case. He told me I wasn't using the muscles in my feet that other people used to run and walk, and that the problem was likely originating somewhere in my back. This, he said, might explain why I had been waking up with insanely painful cramps in my legs every morning. The muscles I was using were exhausted from doing a job they weren't meant to do, literally keeping me on my feet. The panicker in me did great with this information. I tiptoed out of his office and flung myself into the car, sure that I was doing more damage with each step.

The podiatrist said that the person I needed to talk to was a neurologist, so I did that next. I'll never forget that day, because it's the first time I heard the letters ALS as a possible theory for what was going on with my body. The neurologist, a second-year resident with zero bedside manner, watched my arms for what he called fasciculations. My arms obliged, over and over, though it was the first time I had ever noticed the twitches. After that, I noticed nothing else. Cramps, twitching, muscle weakness and atrophy: turns out it's the recipe for ALS, especially obvious in someone my age because there's almost nothing else it could be. We traveled other avenues, did tests, and even a three-month series of intravenous treatments to rule out some other kind of neuropathy. But nothing worked, and in June, the doctors found that the disease had spread from my legs to my arms. This allowed them to classify me as an ALS patient, albeit one who only showed signs of lower motor neuron disease.

At this point, nearly 4 months after that diagnosis, I can feel nothing unusual in my hands or arms. My disease is isolated for now to my legs and feet. It's getting worse there. Though I used to walk all over the city with Scarlett, I can now make it no more than a few blocks before my legs begin to quiver and my feet just won't lift anymore. At these times, I literally feel like I could be blown over by a strong gust of wind. What does this all mean for life with a rambunctious two-year-old? It's been tough. There are times when she doesn't want to leave the park or her preschool, and I know that any other parent would just be able to pick her up (not fun, but at least possible) and wrestle her to the car. I don't have that option, and so I find myself appealing to her in a rather unattractive way to please just help me out and walk to the car. It usually doesn't work. What does work is telling her that she can have a treat, so yeah. I never really wanted to be the parent who bribes her kid. But I never wanted to be a mom with a disability either. Compromises.

I have spent some time feeling sorry for myself, and more time feeling angry. I don't like that this disease is taking things from me, that it will take more before it's through, and that there's nothing I can do but "hang in there" as the doctor who eventually diagnosed me said. But I have come to realize that I'm lucky. I'm lucky that my brand of ALS is moving slowly, that I can still walk at all, that I can take Scarlett to music class and dance with her, that I can cook dinner for my family and spend an amazing Fall day at a pumpkin patch (pics to come.) I'm lucky that I have my incredible daughter, my patient, solid husband, my family and my friends. When all else fails, I think: what if it was Scarlett who had the disease and all I could do was watch? That usually shuts me right up.

This year, as tough as it has been with the waiting, the declines in health, and the ultimate news of my diagnosis, has afforded me time to get used to the idea that my life is not going to be the life I had planned for. And although I can't always reside in a state of calm and acceptance, I am working towards it. I will probably write about this more, maybe even start a new blog about it if there is enough to say.

I'm still hopeful, by the way. People overcome diseases all the time. Cures get discovered. I'm hanging in there. Still loving so many things about my life. Still thanking you for reading this.


Rabu, 19 September 2012

Our Wedding

Dear Scarlett,
Your Dad and I got married four years ago today. We were living in New York City at the time and had considered all sorts of different weddings. We had flown to Sonoma the previous Christmas to see about getting married at a vineyard. We even chose one and made a deposit, but that night I had major second thoughts about asking our families and friends to fly across the country for our wedding. We thought about having a big wedding in Chicago, we considered a small ceremony in Italy, we talked about eloping. Ultimately, we landed on a very small gathering in Central Park. Nonnie and Pops, Grandma and Grandpa, Uncle John and Aunt Jamie, and Aunt Liz and Uncle Rob were invited. We also planned to have a party in Chicago so that we could celebrate with all of the other important people in our lives. Grandma and Grandpa could only come to one event, and we wanted them to meet my whole family, so they decided to skip the New York wedding and come to Chicago. It was hard to leave out Aunt Robin and Aunt Beverley and Uncle Mike and Uncle Paul, but we really wanted to keep the group small. Uncle John and Aunt Liz were our witnesses.

Sept 19, 2008 was a Friday. We had spent the night before eating pizza and meeting with Michael, who would be our officiant. Dad worked with Michael's wife, and knew that he was ordained. We told him about how we had met, and what kind of ceremony we wanted to have: short and simple, but meaningful. The morning of our wedding, I woke up earlier than anyone else. I couldn't stay put in our little apartment, so I walked to the grocery store. I remember running into our friend Forest on 23rd St. "We're getting married today!" I exclaimed. He gave me a big hug. Later that day Aunt Liz tried to show me a funny video about someone named Bon-qui-qui, but I was too wound up to appreciate it, and she finally gave up on explaining it to me.

Dad, Pops, John and Rob spent the afternoon together. They had lunch and then went to Ermengildo Zegna to get custom shirts designed. Nonnie, Liz, Jamie and I went to see Krister, who cut my hair when I lived in New York (and even sometimes after we moved to California, when I was on business trips.) He did everyone's hair that day. We drank mimosas and his assistant ordered us lunch. We stopped at a random bodega for my bouquet and finished getting ready back at home, without the boys. Then a limo picked us up to take us to the park.

We had decided to get married at Turtle Pond, near Belvedere Castle. This was technically illegal, so Michael crafted a story for us in case we got stopped. We were going to be actors rehearsing a wedding scene. We got to the entrance we had agreed upon and everyone started trickling in from their respective prep locations. Michael arrived, as did our photographer Tyler, dressed in a t-shirt and camouflage pants. "I thought this was a casual wedding!" he exclaimed, when he saw my long white dress. We assured him that his attire was perfectly acceptable. And it was good that he was dressed that way, because he ended up on the ground, running ahead of us through the grass, and hopping through bushes to get the perfect shots.

The only people missing were Dad and Uncle John, who had decided it would be a great idea to take the Subway to the wedding. It got delayed, and they were down there sweating in their suits. Finally, they made it, and we all walked through the park together, the meandering pathways our very own makeshift aisle. We did not get hassled by any authorities, but plenty of people stopped to watch and congratulate us.

The ceremony was short, but lovely. Michael had prepared some readings of Rumi, and some thoughts on how Dad and I had found each other. We said our vows and exchanged rings, kissed, and were married. Then we made our way to the castle to take more pictures. The limo was waiting to take us for a champagne toast at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, with a beautiful view of the park. From there we went to dinner in Tribeca at Scalini Fedeli (Steps of Faith.) I wish I could tell you what I ate, but all I remember is laughing and more toasts. And one very careful trip down the stairs to the bathroom. The whole group finished the evening at the Gramercy Park Hotel, where Dad and I had chosen to spend our wedding night. There was more champagne on the rooftop and definitely more laughing.

It was the perfect wedding day.


Selasa, 04 September 2012

Miss Sparkle

Dear Scarlett,
Today you did not want to go to school. I know this because you yelled "I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL!" several times. You picked out a shirt to wear, but then refused to select any other articles of clothing to go with it.

"You really need to wear pants," I told you. "Or a skirt." See how accommodating I can be?

"NO!" you screamed.

"How about a tank top under your shirt?" I asked, like a glutton for punishment. You threw things.

"Hmmm," I said, after many, many minutes of this. "This tank top is sparkly."

You got quiet.

"Do you want to wear this sparkly tank top?" I asked.


"And I will call you Miss Sparkle?"


"Miss Sparkle, would you like to wear underpants and jeans?"


And just like that, we were dressed and out the door. I know that you like school. When I come to pick you up in the afternoon, you run up to me, thrilled to tell me about what you have been doing. Although your information is questionable at best. I don't really think you had soup with parrots for lunch last Thursday. You do seem to be picking up some Italian, and you are constantly asking things like "What is stork in Italian?" "What is rice cake in Italian? "What is Pops in Italian?"

Dad and I are going to our very first parent/teacher conference tomorrow afternoon, and I plan to use the time to find out what you really do for four hours every Tuesday and Thursday. I know what you do with the rest of your time. You have a new keyboard and you like to play it constantly. This basically means that you hit the button that runs the song bank, and then you stand up and spin around while the keyboard plays Ode to Joy and Yankee Doodle. Our dear friend Amanda was here this weekend and she introduced us to some new music, including Elizabeth Mitchell and Harper Simon, son of Paul. You made her play their songs over and over and over. Another new favorite is the Putamayo Italian Cafe. You sing along on the way to school, which is hilarious, because you are basically just making Italian sounding noises.

There is more to say. Always. But for now I will leave it at that and spend some time watching the Democratic National Convention speeches with Dad.

Sleep well, Miss Sparkle. I love you.


Rabu, 15 Agustus 2012

First Day of School!

Dear Scarlett,

You started preschool yesterday. We've chosen to send you to an Italian immersion program across town. I was a little nervous about getting there on time, and more than a little excited to see how you would handle your first day. We got there in plenty of time to take pictures, some with your new friend Leon. Then you got comfortable in the classroom, helped yourself to some breakfast, and had a blast in the sandbox. You took the language in stride, using some of your Italian words and asking us when you didn't understand something. "What is the teacher saying?" you asked at one point, when she wanted you to clean up your cereal bowl.

When it was time for parents to leave, we sang a goodbye song together, and off you went on your adventure. You seemed unfazed that I was leaving (Dad had already left at that point), and equally unfazed when I returned to pick you up. You were full of stories, and told me that you loved one of the teachers (the one with the guitar, surprise surprise). I'm so glad it was a good experience! Dad and I couldn't be more proud of you.


Selasa, 31 Juli 2012

Jack is Here!

Dear Scarlett,
On July 27 at 11:09pm, your cousin Jack Theodore was born. I know this for a fact, because I was there, at the foot of the bed, watching him arrive. It was an unbelievable experience to attend a birth, and though my role was so obviously different from the one I played the day you were born, it all felt connected. To have had a baby, and then to watch someone you love have a baby, is like finally hearing the complete version of a great story. I knew what I knew, and now I know more. And it may sound false, but it was much harder to watch your Aunt Lizzie be in pain than it was to go through pain myself. Or maybe it just seems that way because of the distance between me and my own labor.

Jack did not make it easy for Liz. I think this is because he saw very little compelling reason to leave his comfortable existence. He didn't yet know that we were waiting for him, that his room is full of stuffed animals, that he has a dog. These are things worth coming out for. And Liz worked so hard to bring him into the world. When she did, his big eyes were wide open, looking at all of us. He looked just like Uncle Rob, and Dad says that this is so Uncle Rob wouldn't eat him. We can talk about that later.

Jack is now three days old and he is starting to look more like his own person. He has insanely chubby cheeks, dark hair, and--your favorite part--a cord. "Baby Jack has a cord!" you announce multiple times a day. When you first got a glimpse of it, you told us poop was coming out of his belly button. You were amazed that such a thing would be possible, and wanted more than just a quick look. Once we explained what was going on, you were no less amazed, and it has now gone into your file of all things Jack. Other things in the file: "Jack cried and cried." "Jack does not like to be naked." I should mention for posterity that Jack does not cry very much at all, but you were witness to a diaper change that made him angry.

You like to hold Jack and sing to him, and you've been very gentle and loving. When Liz asked you who his mommy was, you went silent with the sheer weirdness of the question. You still think that the creature we called Spud is in Liz's belly. But you do understand that Jack lives with Liz and Rob and Rigby, so it will just be a matter of time before the other pertinent details fall into place. For now, we are all just enjoying the world with Jack in it. It's a happy, happy place.


Sabtu, 07 Juli 2012

You, Lately

Dear Scarlett,
Recently at breakfast, you've been asking me "Mommy, what you are eating, Mommy?" Sometimes later in the day, you say, "Mommy, what you are doing, Mommy?" I'm reading, I'll explain, or I'm making your lunch, or I'm trying to ignore you as you yell at me from 3 rooms away that you NEED an eye pillow while you're taking a nap. You don't use it to cover your eyes, in case you were curious. You just like to hold it.

We started our Italian classes today. For two hours each week, you and Dad and I will drive to North Beach and attend what is basically a preschool class with a small group of other kids and their parents. When the teacher introduced us all, she told the group that I speak a little bit of Italian. This was, how shall I put it...generous. Basically, I know none. But I'm working on it. By the end of class today, I knew the names of many animals, and I also knew how to say Be Careful (Attenta), Be Gentle (Gentile), and Hey, stop kicking that tunnel when other kids are in it (which I said only in English).

After two years of no television for you, Dad and I have relaxed a bit, and you now watch a few short videos a day on YouTube. Your favorites are The Skeleton Dance ("Bones are not scary!" you tell us) and Otter Swim Lesson, which was originally sent to us by Nana and is now an obsession. You like to narrate this one: "The otter doesn't want to go in the water! But Mommy says you have to swim! Then he dries off. Then he has to take a nap. Look, he's peeking out!"

On the actual TV, you and Dad have been checking out some sports: the US Open Golf tournament (which you referred to as "Holes"), the Tour de France (you spent time hunting for the polka dot jersey), and the run-up to this summer's Olympics, which begin in a few weeks.

The other thing that will be happening in the new few weeks is the arrival of your cousin, currently known as Spud. "Spud, come out soon!" you like to say. I think Aunt Shishie agrees with you, but everyone has to just hold their horses until we get back from our vacation next week.

After that, game on. Gentile.

Love, Mom

Selasa, 19 Juni 2012

Playing by your own rules

Dear Scarlett,

You are emptying a bag of crackers onto the living room rug, which has just been vacuumed. When all of the crackers are on the floor and have been sufficiently spread around, I start to clean them up so we can go to the grocery store. At first, I tell you to help, but then I decide that the most I can hope for is that you will stop stepping on the crackers and mashing them into the rug even further.

After several attempts to get you to stop, I say, "Do not step on the crackers. If you step on them one more time, you're going to your room."

You smirk at me and take a giant step into the biggest pile.

"Get out," I tell you. "Go to your room. Right now."

You run off gleefully, shouting, "I'm going to have a time out!!"

Dad and I are in the process of rethinking your punishments, since time out doesn't seem to be having the desired effect. I'll let you know what we come up with.

On the plus side, you crack me up every day. Yesterday you asked a 10-year-old if she wanted to "hang out" at the aquarium. This was after introducing yourself by saying "Hey, this is Scarlett."

In tumbling class this week, when the rest of us were stretching in a circle, you got right into the center and started singing a song Nonnie taught you. "My poor hand is shaking, I cannot make it stop!" you chanted.

In swim class, you wriggle away from me as soon as you can and swim all by yourself. You can get across the pool now, coming up for air whenever you want, and often yelling something in the seconds before you go back under. "I'm having!" you yelled when we were at a pool in Palo Alto with Nonnie last weekend. And then, "Fun!" the next time you surfaced.

It pains me that I don't write you more letters, because every day there is something to record. But I am busy living life with you, rather than writing it down. I try to keep notes, and some of the things you say are so unforgettable, but I still know that I'm missing things. It's ok, I think. I want to just enjoy this time with you: the way you sometimes come up and kiss my leg in the kitchen, or lean against me and say "HUG." The way you ask me to hold your hand, which is really more of a demand, "Mommy will hold your hand," but it makes me smile. The way that you kiss Dad on both of his cheeks every morning before asking "How was your day, Daddy?"

You are a feisty, independent little girl, and unbelievably sweet. Your naughty behavior, which includes enjoying your time outs, is simply another way to mess with us, something you and probably every other toddler in the world have mastered. But I know that when you run away from me and I say "Ok, I'm leaving, see you later," you will immediately run back towards me yelling, "I want to go with you!"

Same here.


Rabu, 30 Mei 2012

Smokey Goulding (1991-2012)

Dear Scarlett,
On May 11, we said goodbye to our dear cat Smokey. Smokey was a beautiful, 21-year-old Russian Blue with a feisty attitude and a penchant for eating human food. He often stalked around and under your high chair waiting for a stray garbanzo bean or some macaroni and cheese to roll his way. He did not ever wait long.

I first met Smokey in June of 2005 when I started dating Dad. They used to play a game where Dad would bounce Smokey in his arms, and then toss him in the air over the bed. When Smokey landed, he nuzzled right up to Dad to tell him he wanted to keep playing. Now Dad plays a similar game with you, but when you want more, you just yell "More bouncing again right now please!"

While we were living in New York, Smokey was diagnosed with kidney and thyroid diseases, and we had to put him on several medications. Despite this, he usually acted like a kitten, full of energy and very affectionate.

Smokey lived in Chicago, Boston, New York and San Francisco. He was a very worldly cat, whose favorite things included sitting on Dad's lap every evening, galloping down the hall at odd hours, ice cream, and Emma. And then sometimes not Emma. Smokey was a bit of an enigma. His opinion of you can best be described as dubious. As you will recall from earlier letters, you pulled his fur, grabbed him by his back legs, and generally tormented him with all of your "love." But to his credit, he didn't hold this against you much of the time. When you were very small, he would sit with us in the rocking chair while you nursed. And recently, he even started approaching you while you were reading on our bed. But if you turned too quickly or expressed too much interest in him, he was out of there. He just wanted to watch you.

The day we said goodbye to Smokey, we also said goodbye to your baby monitors. You announced that the one in your room was "scary" and that although the other one was "nice," you wanted neither of them around you. I asked you why one was scary and you said "Because it watches you." I can see how that would be somewhat discomforting, so we took the monitors away. But then it turned out you weren't really scared of them, you just wanted to hold them and talk about them all the time. After two weeks of the monitors being your constant companions ("the monitors are your friends" is a sentence that came out of your mouth more than once), I finally had to tell you that we gave them away to a family with a small baby.

Of Smokey, you sometimes say "Smokey went with the doctor. But he's coming back soon." And when I tell you Smokey is not coming back, you say "Oh yeah." And then you ask for your monitors.

The last thing you said to Smokey was "Hey Smokey, you good cat, you." He was a good cat. It's hard to believe he's gone.