Wednesday, July 21, 2010

15 Months

My Beautiful Gabriela,

Whew! These last three months have been busy, busy, busy! It seems like ever since you turned one we have been on the go! (I'm not sure how that is different from the first 12 months of your life, I guess, but still...we've been busy!) You totally roll with it though and adapt to any situation we put you in. All the while growing up so, so fast!

Just for fun, we entered a Mother/Daughter Look-a-Like Contest Mother's Day Weekend. Out of the nearly 60 participants, we didn't win, but you were definitely the cutest daughter on stage that day! (And luckily I'm not biased or anything.)

Shortly after your first birthday, we hit the road. The second week of May, you and I made the 14 hour drive to Georgia without Papai (since somebody has to work and pay the bills!) We got to spend some good quality time with Grandpa and Momo before heading over to South Carolina for Uncle Justin and Aunt Casie's wedding festivities.

You were a hit at Aunt Casie's lingerie shower and bachelorette party (although you and I called it a night before all the girls headed out to a club to go dancing.) We were planning a little family mini-vacation to Myrtle Beach after the wedding, but Papai got called away on a last minute trip to Brasil. So, you and I got a little more solo time.

After getting back to Iowa, we attended Aunt Kelly's High School Graduation Party, and then you, Papai, and I headed south to your homeland. Our trip got extended, and we ended up spending a full 3 weeks in Belo Horizonte. Papai was working, but you and I were most definitely vacationing (do you see a recurring theme here?) Then we flew back home to Burlington and left the following day for a week-long family trip to Georgia.

You spent your first night ever completely away from the parental units and got totally spoiled by Uncle Travis and Aunt Brii while we attended my 10-year class reunion. (And as a side note, we never actually meant to wait this long to leave you behind while we took a trip, but you're such an easy kid that it really is no trouble at all to take you along with us. We've never felt like we needed a "break". And so, you were 14 months old before you ever spent a night away. Lots of people were surprised that I never called to check up on you nor were we the least bit anxious or worried. We knew you were in good hands and have full confidence in you to behave with or without us around.)

A trip to Hilton Head Island, a visit to Great Uncle Ruben and Aunt Betsy in Waycross, a quick visit with Uncle Nathan in Tifton, a stopover with the Mizells in Cairo, and then we returned to Colbert to spend the 4th of July with Grandpa, Momo, Uncle Nathan, Aunt Megan, Uncle Justin, Aunt Casie, and Cousin Tyson. And then we drove 14 hours overnight back home.

After all that, I was left feeling more than ever like you are a complete rock star! In less than two months, you logged over 5,000 miles in the car, more than 25 hours on planes, slept in countless cribs/rooms, got kept up past your bedtime regularly, had to skip multiple naps, met dozens upon dozens of new people, used disposable diapers instead of your usual cloth, and Mamae got lazy and did not give you nearly as many opportunities to use the potty instead of your diaper like you're used to. Yet you still slept 12 hours every night without ever waking up, you ate like a champ, you never complained about getting put back in your car seat AGAIN, you entertained the masses with huge smiles, squeals, and babble, and we received countless compliments on what a happy, outgoing, beautiful, and well-behaved little girl you are!

Despite my mild concern that we were going to have to get you dentures, it seems you might have teeth somewhere under your gums after all. You cut your two bottom teeth simultaneously at 12 months, 3 weeks while we were at Grandpa and Momo's. More than two months later, there is no sign of any more teeth yet, but you're doing pretty good with those two bottom ones and can gum up darn near anything we feed you.

A couple weeks ago, you started crying when we lay you down for bedtime and naps. That was totally new for you! But luckily it was short-lived and only lasted a week. The first night you screamed for 30 minutes and I was almost convinced something was really wrong with you. You quickly let us know it was just that you were mad and didn't want to go to sleep though: That night, you only calmed down after Papai came in the room and took you from me. Then you looked at me, scrunched up your little face, shook your head, and said "Oooooooooooo". After that you got laid right back down and we let you cry your little self to sleep. For the next week, you continued to cry each time you had to sleep, but it was a little shorter each day until you finally stopped altogether. (Thank goodness!!!)

My goal since your birth was to wait until your first birthday to cut your hair. We made it, and your bangs and mullet got a nice trim in May. You are no longer rocking a curly mullet. You're welcome.

You are walking like a champ and even starting to run now (although your little runs usually end with you sprawled across the floor or ground!) And your latest passion is climbing. You are constantly trying to throw your leg up and over things to climb up. Your short stature limits you a bit, but you've recently figured out how to drag things around and make little steps for yourself (oh joy). You climb on and off of your tricycle over and over again and even love to take a book to read while you sit on it.

Just after your first birthday you finally started to use some sign language. "Eat" was, not surprisingly, your first and favorite sign. Then you added "Done/Finished", "Want", and "Milk". (Although we say the words in Portuguese while using ASL - yeah, I know, confusing.)

Verbally, you're still not saying a whole lot of actual words. Mama, Dada, Nana (for banana), and Nene (baby in Portuguese) are your only words right now. You are constantly babbling your own little language though. There is so much inflection in your voice it sounds like you're telling all kinds of stories. And you are able make all kinds of sounds including clucking your tongue and rolling your tongue (as in a rolling "r" in Spanish). Despite your lack of ability to speak to us, you understand nearly everything! You follow most the commands we give you now and know the names of most things around the house that you regularly play with or get into. You only understand Portuguese as that's all Papai and I speak with you, but the English will come as you get older and spend more time with extended family, friends, and playmates.

You love most foods, although you might not eat something today but eat it fine tomorrow. Your favorites right now are tomatoes (we couldn't keep you away from Grandpa's tomatoes in Georgia, every time we turned around you had picked one out of the basket and taken a couple bites!), berries (blueberries, strawberries, blackberries), bananas, plain yogurt, cheese, and whole wheat crackers. You also have a strange affection for lemons and limes - you don't even make a face as you happily eat away at them! You generally eat table food now, but we're careful to make sure you get plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. You still haven't had any sweets or super-processed food of any sort. You drink water with meals and throughout the day and have three 8-ounce sippy cups of whole milk each day (one first thing in the morning, one as an afternoon snack, and one at night before bed). We've started giving you a fork and/or spoon with your meals. If we load it up for you, you do a great job of picking it up and getting the food into your mouth. You haven't quite mastered getting food onto the utensil yourself though.

You love dolls, adore purses or anything with a strap you can throw over your arm as a "purse" (such as my bras), and have been totally obsessed with books the last couple weeks. While we're at home you almost always have a book in your hand. You will spend a lot of time walking around and flipping through a book by yourself, but if anyone is sitting on the floor you back up and plop your little hiney into our lap and hand us a book to read. We rarely make it through an entire book, as usually you hop up and go pick out another one about halfway through. We hope we can continue to foster your love of books and reading for many years to come!

You've become even more affectionate lately. You run to the door the moment Papai gets home and immediately want him to pick you up so you can give him a great big hug. And you love to plant huge, open mouth, slobbery kisses on us when we least expect them! Your constant chatter makes us giggle and your movie star smile and wave lights up a room the moment you enter. Attention is definitely your thing and, at 15 months, you have yet to ever show the least bit of stranger anxiety!

You hit a sudden vertical growth spurt the last month and are up to 30" tall (30th percentile). Your feet grew at an even faster pace! Size 3 shoes were huge on you at your birthday, now you fill out a size 4! (Although all your summer shoes are size 3's and so long as they are open-toed they are still working out alright.) You're a tall and narrow thing, weighing only 20.5 pounds naked (15the percentile).

You are growing up so fast and we want to savor every moment. You are a busy little toddler and into everything these days, but we love to watch as you figure out how things work and gain more coordination and confidence. Our days are filled with laughter and smiles and your Papai and I enjoy you so much!

I love you lots, Minha Princessa!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

5 Years Ago: Hello Mr. Right

On July 20, 2005, I was totally giddy. As in giggling, can't stop smiling, doing a little happy dance, excited.

In the months leading up to that fabulous day, I had:

- broken off an engagement to Mr. All-Wrong after dating on and off for 5 years.

- been on several dates with a guy who, as it turns out, was gay. (I am pretty sure his alternative lifestyle wasn't the result of a few dates with least I like to tell myself that.)

- gone on a blind date with a really nice guy. Who never called. (I'm pretty sure he must have lost my number. Yeah, that must be what happened.)

-accidentally rattled off my real number to a slightly sketchy guy when I intended to give him a "fake" number. He did call. A lot.

- received a lot of "courting" phone calls from a nice, non-sketchy fella. Who had absolutely zero social skills and couldn't figure out I was trying to let him know I wasn't interested in a nice, non-direct, but still quite obvious, way.

- (I'm sure there are some other highlights that I have since blocked from my memory.)

- debated converting to Catholicism and becoming a nun. (Okay, not really. But sort of.)

But on July 20, 2005, I had a seven-hour drive to Athens, Georgia after spending five days in Tampa, Florida. Which was plenty of time to reflect on the absolutely fabulous guy I had just met. Sure, he was a Yankee. But I figured I could get past that with a little time. He was, after all, perfect in pretty much every single way (except that he lived in Iowa). And hot. Oh my gosh was he ever a hottie!

And he called. While I was still en route on my drive back from Tampa, in fact. (No "three-day-rule" games with this guy!) By the time we hung up the phone that night (sometime after I hit a deer while driving my parents' Expedition and only 5 miles from home), I had the wedding all planned out in my mind. I could barely sleep that night; I was so excited. I had met the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with!

Of course, he didn't know that yet. And I certainly couldn't let him in on the fact for many months to come. Actually, I later found out that he had a conversation that went something like this on the tarmac of the Tampa Airport:

Friend Sitting Next to Him on the Plane: "So do you think you'll ever see Emily again?"

The Future Father of My Unborn Children: "Oh, I don't know. It'd be pretty cool I guess if I did. But she lives in Georgia, ya know?"

I sure do like it when I'm right.

I am thankful that I went to the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers International Convention that year. And I'm glad that I accepted the invitation by my friend, Chops, to come hang out with him and all the Iowa State guys. And I thank God that out of the hundreds of guys in attendance (with only, oh, about a dozen females), Eric was able to catch my attention. And I'm happy that Eric called, even though I lived all the way in Georgia. And I'm forever indebted to whoever invented free long distance and free nights and weekends on cell phone plans. And that happily ever after that I had all planned out by midnight on July 20, 2005? A million times better than I ever imagined.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Random Thoughts From the Weekend

We spent most of the weekend at home trying to catch up on homeowner stuff: cleaning house, pruning shrubs, pulling weeds, etc. Fun, exciting stuff.

I want to post pictures from everything we've been up to since mid-May, so this week and probably next I'll attempt to catch up around here. But for today, here are a few random thoughts and observations from my weekend.

- When asked by your wife, "Hey Babe, what are you up to?" The right answer is always, always, always, "Well, I was about to clean bathrooms . . .unless you object." God bless this man I married. (And no, I don't object. Ever.)

- Why do thistles have to be weeds? They have pretty purple flowers. And they are not fun to pull - I got poked even through leather gloves!

- Would now be an appropriate time to strangle the previous homeowner who planted invasive vines (lots and lots of vines, including Virginia Creeper, Algerian Ivy, Honeysuckle, etc.) in all the beds around the house?

- I know that they are tiny and cute when you buy them, but, just like puppies, plants grow. Go ahead and ask what size to expect the plant to get before plopping it in the ground. And if it is eventually going to be 4' to 6' in diameter, how about not planting it 8" from another equally large shrub? Just a thought.

- Bradford Pears = Not Good. Besides the putrid smell of their blooms that elicit images of a cheap motel, they have a tendency to split and fall during windstorms. Especially inconvenient is when half of the tree falls during your first days away on a trip to Brasil for 3 weeks. Even less fun is when the other half falls the day after you leave for a week long vacation in Georgia. Not exactly fun to come home to. And I'm not sure the grass in our front yard, nor the neighbors who moved in next door 6 weeks ago, will ever recover.

- I used to laugh at my Dad's never-ending list of projects and improvements to make on his house and property. After spending at least an hour each day over the weekend walking around with Eric talking about our vision for different rooms and parts of the yard - I understand now.

- It doesn't matter how many times you pick up the living room while Gabriela is sleeping. Within 10 minutes of her being awake, it will return to its previous state of chaos.

- Rednecks are not restricted to residing south of the Mason-Dixon Line. We went to the Lee County (Iowa) Fair Saturday night to get out and enjoy the nice evening. I've never seen so many NASCAR hats and t-shirts with the sleeves cut off. And I've sat in the cheap seats at races in Daytona and Atlanta . . . so that's really saying something!

- After months of traveling and being a big softie and giving Gabriela her pacifier to sleep with, I decided last night was time to officially retire all pacifiers for good. We put her to bed and she screamed, like top-of-her-lungs-making-my-own-throat-hurt-listening-to-it screamed. And this is the kid who pretty much never, ever cries. I let her cry it out for 15 long minutes. Then I went in to comfort her and tell her again it was time to sleep and tuck her back in. She refused to calm down even after I picked her up though and continued screaming. After a couple minutes, I was starting to wonder if something was actually wrong (something more than just pitching a fit because she didn't have her chupeta.) About that time, Eric came in for back-up. She immediately reach for her Papai, who took her from my arms. After silently laying her head on his shoulder for a brief second, Gabriela popped her head up, spun around to look at me, scrunched up her little round face, pursed her tiny pouty lips, and said, "Oooooooooo" while shaking her head back and forth. (She was obviously very much not happy with her mother. And very much showing off an emerging little attitude.) I sort of wanted to strangle her, but mostly wanted to fall on the floor laughing. I would generally recommend avoiding either action in such great moments of parenting. (Although feel free to laugh - uncontrollably - once in your own bed later that night as you recall her too-adorable "mad face".)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

8 Weeks Later - We're Home

The best thing about being away from home is coming back and crawling in your own bed. The worst part? Well, after being gone 8 weeks, stopping by home twice for a total of 3 nights to unpack, do laundry, and re-pack . . . THE MESS!

Oh my gosh. You have no idea. I like to leave the house orderly and clean, so when I return from a trip I can plop my behind on the couch for a couple hours (or days), recover from my travels, and not feel guilty about it.

Unexpected travel plans which extend your intended time away by, oh, about 40 days, are not conducive to returning to a clean home. Then throw in a 1 year old who has an exceptional ability to destroy a perfectly neat room in 5 minutes flat. (Those 3 nights at home? Yeah, just barely enough time for me to do laundry, re-pack, mow the jungle of a yard, and still manage to get the kid fed and bathed. Gabriela, on the other hand, had plenty of time to drag out everything from everywhere.) I do not exaggerate when I say it looked (um, looks) like a tornado came through our house.

Needless to say, arriving home at 10:00 Monday morning after driving all night from Georgia was not the most relieving experience of my life, as one might expect after being gone for nearly 2 months. Crazy Prego was feeling a little overwhelmed and out of sorts. As we were unloading the vehicle, Eric made the mistake of asking where I wanted him to put the tub of my favorite childhood toys that we brought from my parents' house for Gabriela. The response was something along the lines of a huffy "I really don't care." (Which, admittedly, was filtered from where I really wanted to tell him to put it.) As he came around the corner and sweetly asked me what was wrong and hugged me, my eyes welled up with tears and I made some profound statement like, "It's too messy. There's too much to do. I can't answer any questions."

Eric promptly suggested we finish unloading and then go straight to bed to take a nap. (I love that guy!) Gabriela's not the only one who gets a little cranky when she hasn't had enough sleep.

I've managed to get the kitchen and living room straightened up, but I still have the 3 bedrooms to go. And then there's the basement (which has been our "dumping grounds" for the last 6 months). And who knew so much dust could fall inside a sealed building with no one in it? Everything is getting a serious deep cleaning this weekend.

Meanwhile, it does feel good to curl up in our own bed at night. We had a fantastic time "on the road", but, even despite the mess, it is nice to be home. And it looks like we're going to stick around here for awhile. Or at least for the next 15 days. Then we have a six-week stretch of weekends where we have commitments 2-7 hours away. And then we have three weekends before Bebe Dois is due. And one of those weekends we're doing a local 5K Family Walk/Run, or in my case, a 5K Waddle. (Oh my. Can I go crawl back in bed, pull the covers over my head, and stay there...indefinitely?)