Thursday, May 31, 2012

a letter to my "baby"

Little Levi.  You are sleeping away in your bed and I am writing just as the earliest signs of your coming began to nudge me to bed early, three years ago.  How did we get here?  Three years ago seems like forever, and yet my baby is turning three already!

I’ve been savoring the past six months with you.  Savoring, like you were my last meal on earth.  At times I’ve accused you of ruining your waning days of babyhood by being so capricious, so stubborn, but that isn’t fair.  You are your own spirit—you just started giving up your naps before your little body and emotions were fully ready (and I was).  Plus I’m not the best about having snacks on the ready to ward off the grumpies.

The year started off under tough circumstances and my attention was divided.  My mommy needed me, too.  I’ve tried to make up for lost time.  Your brother has shown me how fleeting these years can be.  I stopped traveling internationally.  My heart couldn’t bear another plea with your steel blue eyes and little voice, “Mama, I don’t want you to go.”  Or your very matter-of-fact comment: “I want to be with you.”  How could I deny you? How could I miss the shedding away of the round baby fat double chin and miss the transformation from toddler to small child.  I cut back my hours significantly and created our special Thursdays.  Mama-and-Levi time splashing in the pool at the Y and clapping along at Kindermusic.  Why had I waited so long to stimulate your mind and body so? 

You were so engaged in music.  While others squirmed or cried, you were completely present.  It reminded me of the time Surya had you in his lap and let you play the mbira.  Your transformation was palpable.  So focused, my normally bouncing 2 year old was transfixed by the tones and completely subdued. In Kindermusic, I adored the way you would bring a new instrument to me from the bin for us to explore together.  The wooden frog from Latin America was your favorite. Shy at times—you only would bang on that drum if I would come with you—but always engaged, participating from my lap or with the comfort of my hand.  Of course in swimming, it also meant the comfort of my neck, which you would wrap both arms around tightly.  You still won’t jump into the pool without at least a fingertip of connection between us.  But I promise to be patient.

That is something about you I’m still trying to figure out.  You seem so gregarious, so confident, so capable—and then you surprise me by hiding behind my leg, playing the shy one with your left shoulder cradling your cheek.  Is it that without your other half, your big brother, (“My brother” as you are fond of qualifying at every opportunity lately) you lose some of that swagger I know and love?  If I had any worry for you, it is ironically the closeness of your bond with Micah.  You love him so.  And he loves you.  But he is growing up too and when you two are in sync, it is magic, but he increasingly wants to roll with the bigger boys, despite your protests that you’re a big boy too. 

You’ve always gravitated towards Micah and the big boys.  Since you began walking (running really) at 10 months, you’ve identified with them and have expressed indifference at best towards your cohort.  You skipped trains, duplo and dinosaurs and went straight to legos, light sabers and “zombie hunters.”  Whereas I used to cringe at your aggressive play, your obsession with “bad guys”, now I admit to being slightly amused at times.  And certainly humbled.  I was so self-righteous at Montessori when Micah attended.  “Who were these parents showing their 2-year olds Batman?”—I’ve come to learn, through you Levi, those 2-year olds were the younger siblings.  Now you are the 2-year old corrupting the babes!

And staring Montessori this year was of course a milestone in-and-of itself.  While the nap boycott earlier in the year, followed by the potty boycott, despite being out of pull-ups everywhere but at school, are not my fondest memories of this school year, you assure us that tomorrow (“when I turn three”—you negotiated) you’ll start using the potty, and my! oh my! how adorably you sing and hold a pencil in your little hand.  Whereas you started the year friends with “Wardy”, your diction has improved so that you can say Morgandy’s name correctly (to my sadness!) and you are still the best of pals—but is it she who has corrupted you into believing so adamantly that pink is for girls and blue is for boys?

Today, on the eve of your birthday, after quietly playing alone in the house, you came outside wearing your Lego headlamp, ducky rain boots and “pack-pack” on your back.  You crack me up.  You really do.  Your humor is really starting to come through lately along with the imaginative play.  The other day I watched you from the dining room completely lost in your star wars land, wielding your light saber and jumping through the house in your cape (doing “flips”—really just awkward side jumps with one leg out, but I act impressed nonetheless).  You were completely unaware of my presence, so lost in play you were.  The best part was Micah was drawing and you were playing so intently alone.  I like to see that independence.  It gives my comfort that you won’t follow in Micah’s footsteps, play the same sports, go to the same college, have the same major, choose the same career.

As I close this letter, I am left pondering your gentleness underneath the raw energy.  How you “nice” Haile.  How you quietly pad into our room every morning (mercifully later than the 6 am start you had before) and crawl quietly into bed next to me.  Your little chin on my shoulder in an embrace and the closeness with which you bring your face to mine. How much longer do I have to enjoy your sweetness?  Your nine-times-out-of-ten willingness to give me a hug and kiss when I ask.  Your insistence that you sit in my lap for a story (Thank god we’ve moved on from Piggy Pie from earlier this year! You’ve replaced Gritch the Witch with the goblin babies from Outside Over There).  I pray I never forget the feeling of your little body curled into mine, arms and legs wrapped around me in a hug, and your soft curls tickling my chin and nose.  I admit that just to savor your warmth and little self a bit longer I don’t mind falling asleep next to you sometimes.  Your normally exuberant little bouncing body (the curls accentuate the bounce in your step) is still and quiet, your breathing deep—though we both know I also resent that bedtime game you like to play too.  Man, do you play me at times—all that “frying”, or threats that if I leave you’ll start to “fry”!  I know for a fact you don’t put your daddy through such bedtime antics when he is alone with you both in the evenings.  But that is just your “special” way with me.

I hope we continue to have a special way with each other.  I’ll take the good with the not-so-good, because the good is so addictive.  I wish that this year will bring us closer, but that you spread your wings a bit more too.  Micah has discovered art…what will your discovery be? 

I’m going to try to write you and your brother a letter every year on your birthday.  I can’t imagine the day when we pour over these together in amazement that you were ever so little, and yet I also suspect that day will come way sooner than I think.  I love you little Levi, with all my heart.  Sweet dreams my little (devil) angel, tomorrow you'll be three!

Kisses, your Mama

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tu B' Shevat celebration for the trees

The trees did not go unnoticed this year. We had lots of moments to to honor and celebrate this holiday for the trees--one of my favorite Jewish holidays.

Our seder in the park:

Ozomatli played at the Big Jewish Tent nature fest event in the Malibu mountains (awesome semi-private show for $5!!!). Complete with climbing wall and eco-fair:

And our hike with our temple community at Wildwood park:

The start of the hike:

The end of the hike:

Thanks to the talented Teagan (on Etsy!) for the perfect sweater for the occasion (pirate hat not included).

First post of 2012

Whoa! Did the first month of 2012 already go by THAT quickly?

One can of course check Facebook for more recent posts like the bouldering in San Ysidro canyon and Micah's first poop of 2012 recap...

but on to more important moments in 2012:

Like Grandma and Grandpa's visit at the end of January/ beginning of February.

Micah got to kayak with G & G in the harbor:

Of course there was the requisite birding. Micah claims he wants a vest like Grandpa, but that, "I'll probably have to wait until I'm (like) 8 to fit in one."

Here's to hoping that at 8 you have different ideas on fashion accessories, Micah.

Friday, December 30, 2011


In trees in Palm Park:

They call it "Ahh-ing". Here they are in the giant fig tree:

Going down the slide together:

Playing with new Star Wars figurine Hanukkah presents:

An entire collection having a pajama day at Elijah and Nathan's house:

Witness the spectacle:

Ventura iconic winter scenes

Driftwood collecting at the beach:

The annual Harbor Lights Festival, complete with Santa in a sleigh, hot chocolate and full moon:

motor control

Micah continues to be as devoted and talented an artist as ever. This dreidel that he colored in at a pre-Hanukkah Torah School class hardly shows his passion:

Our little bitty Levi is finally starting to show similar interest and control. Observe his concentration as he carefully colors a menorah at the same class:

Levi has also taken to embellishing Micah's discarded drawings.

That's not the only area in which he's proven greater control. Levi has resisted pooping outside of diapers for the last few months, so I decided that when his school ended and the long winter break began we would go diaper-free cold turkey. He's gone entire break so far without wearing a day-time diaper and has even earned a new set of big-boy underwear for his progress. He began by asking us for a diaper when he had to go and, when we refused to give him one, chose to hold it in rather than use the potty. We kept this up, curious to see how long it would last. A few memorable accidents and some determined diaper-begging later, Levi has grown accostomed to-- nay, enamored with-- pooping on the potty. Good boy.

Levi's not the only one mastering new sphyncters: Micah has taught himself how to whistle!

Winter Pageant

Levi "performed" in his Montessori school's winter pageant this year. I'll admit, he did better at 2 and 1/2 than his older brother did at that age. Whereas Micah was left to wander, confused off the stage, Levi took his protective shy stance while corralled into the center by older classmates:
Here he is pre-performance in his finery:

And here "singing" "Here Stands a Lovely Christmas Tree":


from the set of Woody Allen's Sleeper:

any turkey can tango

From the Thanksgiving feast in Micah's kindergarten class:

Thursday, December 08, 2011

things that come out of Levi's mouth

...besides drool, that is. Levi is quite a talker and he says some very interesting/cute things.

-When Amy is calling out to Micah around the house, she'll sometimes use a sing-song voice and include his middle name: "Micah Forest!...Micah Forest!..." Levi must have picked up on this, because we heard him calling her: "Mama Forest!...Mama Forest!..."

-If we are trying to get the boys' attention when they are engrossed in play, we'll come into the room and say, "Boys!" So when Levi wants our attention, he's been known to come into the room and say, "Boys!"

-Levi does not like getting his hair wet in the bath/shower and having the water run into his eyes. When we insist on washing his hair, he'll warn as he gets increasingly upset with, "I'm going to cry! I'm going to cry," and then, "I'm crying!" as he finally breaks down into tears. Of course, he's still working on some of his phonetics, so "cry" often sounds like "fry".

-"C'mon, baby!" He must have picked this up from school. He even used it once when struggling to stab some pasta with his fork, when a frustrated "c'mon" would be entirely appropriate. But after a pause, he added in the "baby!"
"C'mon baby!"

-He very excitedly talks about the new pet turtle at his school and adorably mangles her name, Turtleena.

-He talks about his friend Zerek from school, and Morgandy ("Wardy" or "Wardandy"), much in the way Micah at that age would come home talking about Tova ("I give Tova huggies")

-The little potato figure sitting on the logo of the nearby futon store (The Couch Potato) looks like Humpty Dumpty to Levi and causes him to burst out with his version of the verse: "Humpty Dumpty had a great fall, all the King's horses and...(garbled, comic syllables that vaguely resemble the last line)!"

-At some point, when he wanted to do something after dinner, when it was already dark out, he must have registered our response that it was "too late" to do it. So now when he notices (impending) darkness outside he'll remark that "it's (almost) too late." He also says inquisitively, "it's too late?", seeking confirmation, or defensively, "it's not too late!"

-Finally, every once-in-a-while he surprises us with the clarity and sophistication of his language. He left the dinner table toward the direction of Amy in the bathroom, saying, "I'm going to see Mama," before pausing and looking back at me with, "I will be right back."

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

these are the critters in our neighborhood

Two spiders (of many) in our back yard, some kind of orb-weavers, perhaps?
 Praying mantis at a cafe downtown:
Lizard in the playhouse:

this is our life

What is it with boys and their sticks, lightsabers, swords, and daggers?  They are constantly swashbuckling, sparring, and "fighting".

At Grandma and Grandpa's house:
With Mateo in the orchard (wait for it...):

At the beach in Florida, waiting for the wedding to start:

After the wedding, Micah got all Star Wars Kid on us:

Post-Halloween (in clearance-sale costumes):

And at home with his friend, Callum:

Today at the Schweitzers' house, seeking a segue into the next play activity, Micah asked Lauren, "who can we get?"  This behavior is deeply ingrained in both Micah and Levi's play.  I've been hearing a lot of lonely sighs from Amy lately.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

family and fiori fun in NY

In early October, Levi and I visited Grandma and Grandpa in NY.  We had lots of fun carving pumpkins, playing with animals, mucking about in the puddles with our ducky boots, and enjoying some typically rainy autumn days.

Nick and Mateo even drove up from NYC one day.

We played around the yard,

dug potatoes in the garden,

and visited Bowman Orchards to pick apples and play on a wooden farm-equipment playground in the rain:

Thank you to Nick and Mateo for making the trip up to see us.

Also, a HUGE thank you to Kristin for the amazing home-made, silk-screened shirts.  
Levi's monkey shirt garnered him a personal rendition of Monkey Rhythm from George Spike at the Farmer's Market this weekend.