Thursday, July 26, 2012

Notes to G: mango

Dearest Gemma,
You ate mango for the first time on Sunday. Actually, this is officially the first thing you ate! The water mellon you had before you just licked but the mango you ate. You had a little piece that I had you gum into a mush before you swallowed it.  It was amazing to watch your interest in a solid.  You wanted more so I nursed you and the following morning you had three big poopy diapers. It's a little nerve wrecking to feed you right now because I don't want you to choke on anything.  You, like me seem to choke on your own saliva so I'm a bit worried about food. We'll be ok though.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Notes to P

Dearest P, 
This is a chalk drawing you did of a duck.  Lately your art work is less wide brush strokes and mashing of paint colors and more of line drawings. You draw very distinct things with stories and events going on for every character you draw.  We're getting to the point where you dont have to tell me what you've drawn. It's pretty obvious.  

On 4th of July we went out to breakfast and you drew what we were going to do that evening.  It was a  picture of the four of us with Enzo, Elena, Tony and Karin all watching fireworks.  I wish I would have kept that drawing but I forgot it at the restaurant. Both Papa and I marveled at your work and clear understanding of the future.  

I love you P. I love your works of art. I have a huge stack of them in the office.  I'm not sure how many we'll be able to keep over the years but I wish I had a gallery to showcase each and every one of them.  


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Diving Daughter

Few people really believe me when I say my 4 year old can swim.  Fully swim.  Without floaties. In the deep end of the pool.  The one phrase that makes them get what I'm saying, sort of, is when I say "she dives down 8 feet in our pool".

We started her in ISR at 8 months and I don't regret the time, money or semi stress I went through to have her become the swimmer she is today.....and the swimmer she always has been since the day she started ISR.  She is water safe not just able to swim. These are two different things.

Although the classes can be stressful when you're on the sidelines, it has saved me even more stress. A fellow parent pointed out that drowning is silent. So, to hear our kids cry initially as they learn the skills is really a good cry. Without these skills we could end up hearing silence which is a thousand times worse.  

I proudly talk about P's ability in the water not just because I'm a proud parent but because it is possible for every 4 year old to swim like this.  And they should, specially if you live near a lot of water or if you have a pool.

This summer has been a little tricky.  She is 4 and needs stroke development. I'm going to have to find a private coach because all the swim classes for her age group are meant to teach kids to swim or to make them comfortable in the water. We're past that.  When I talk to other parents about the instructors or classes they love I can tell we're talking apples and oranges. Not many believe a 4 year old can do this:

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Notes to G: Belly Laughs

My Dear G,
A few weeks ago you started laughing on purpose or on cue.  Before then you would laugh but it was random. I didn't know what had made you laugh.  But about two weeks ago I gave you nibbles on your belly, on your left side, and you laughed out loud.  You laughed so hard!  Now I know what makes you laugh. Your laughter is such a wonderful noise.

Your crying is the worst, most gut wrenching sound I've ever heard. I swear my hair falls out when you hit a certain pitch.  But enough about that...your laughter on the other hand is soothing and healing.  I love it!

On another note, today you tasted watermelon for the first time. You didn't eat it but you tasted it and you liked it and you laughed!

i love you forever,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies...EVER!

I've made a lot of chocolate chip cookies since Libby first taught me how as a child.  Most turn out rather flat which I just dislike on an aesthetic factor.  Even if they taste good, which often they don't, I just can't get over them looking like wrinkled up, dirty pancakes.

This recipe from The New York Times is by far, hands down, the best recipe I've ever made.  And I have nothing else to say about that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sister Drum

A semi-empty can of salt, dried lentils and decorative tape can make an excellent drum for a baby sister named Gemma.  Annika is incredibly thoughtful in the things she makes for Gemma or in always picking up two of everything: "One for me and one for Gemma. She can use it when she grows up".

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Joy of Dave

After back to back jobs, night shoots and working non-stop like a dog for weeks Dave finally took time off.  His presence makes everyone so happy in this house.  I know it's hard for him. Being at work is often less taxing than being at home with two needy kids. Make that three needy women who want to be near him. But just look at him. This is why we love him so!  I believe this is the source of good self-esteem for children. 



We signed Annika up for tennis camp this summer.  My goal is for her to learn to play the game at a decent level. She doesn't have to compete but I do want her to be able to play. I also want her to have fun with the sport which is why I thought camp would be perfect.

The camp is for 5-8 year olds.  She is 4.5. Given how long she's already been playing, I knew being the youngest wasn't going to be a problem skill wise.  I was more concerned about how she'd feel socially. Fortunately, she fit right in no problem. In fact, she made many friends.  Every time I dropped her off and picked her up other campers came by to say hello. She was also very proud of herself for doing it. She really looked forward to it, was excited and wanted to continue doing it all summer. But I felt different and I think I did the right thing by pulling her out but I'm not 100% sure.

First, she was so exhausted every day.  I mean really fatigued. I could tell it was too much with the heat and the age gap.  And second, more importantly, after one week of camp I could see her strokes taking a turn for the worse.  I knew I had to pull her when Dave sent me a few pictures of her hitting balls and every one made me cringe.

I primarily teach by feel, specially at this young age.  I try not to use too many verbal cues and instead I let her feel what the right stroke feels like.  For example, on the forehand side the left foot should be out in front. That's the weight bearing foot in the stroke. Instead of telling her over and over to put that foot out in front I have her try to push me with her shoulder in a side ways position the same way she's positioned when hitting a forehand.  When her foot is in the right place she can push me harder, ie hit the ball harder. When the foot is in the wrong place she's off balance.

In a camp scenario it's too hard to work with each child so closely.  They taught very little technique which I expected. That was fine for me because I'd rather they do nothing than do the wrong thing. However, they started asking her to hit with one hand instead of two and to hit volleys. The kid is barely taller than the net. How is she hitting volleys?  Also, I'd rather her hit with two hands and feel strong than hit with one and feel weak and develop bad habits.

The other thing I didn't like is that they place too much emphasis on where the ball is going...over the net.  I could care less where the ball goes as long as the stroke is right. If the stroke is right the ball will eventually go where it should. Plus, I want her to swing fast and smooth not worry about winning a point or a game.  When they worry about the outcome they develop awful habits and hit tenitively.  Like in life;  if you worry about the outcome you'll never take the necessary risks.

I'm trying not to be a crazy tennis parent but I just can't sit back and watch Annika's strokes get ruined.  I've been teaching her since she started standing!  Literally, the kid stood and I put a racket in her hands.  Not to make her a champion but to develop her senses and hand eye coordination that will help her in whatever sport she chooses to do.

I want her to have fun but not ruin a skill. So, I've decided to put her in other non-tennis camps where she'll have fun but I'll continue to teach her myself for now.  I even looked through pictures to make sure I wasn't over reacting. Every before/after picture is the same thing.

This picture is from after a week of camp.  She's focused on getting the ball over the net so she's pushing it up. Her weight is back or stationary not going forward. Her wrists are in a weak position because she's trying to hit up by pushing not stroking through the ball.

The picture below is from two weeks before camp.  First notice how she's not even facing the net. We're at the back of the court. The goal is to hit the ball not get it over the net.  Her weight is fully going forward. She's hitting through the ball not pushing it forward and her wrists and arms are in a strong position.

But the one common thing she has in all the pictures is her focus. This kid can focus like nobody's business when she wants to. Below is the first day of camp and Annika has her game face on. The minute we got out of the car she was in the right frame of mind.  I don't want to waste that!  That is something you don't teach. A person either has it or doesn't.
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Dad's Birthday Gifts

Dave's birthday and Father's Day are always days apart.  I try to surprise him with something but the big gift ends up being something he's chosen. This year he got an underwater camera. We shopped for it.

The surprise was a box set of Anthony Bourdaine's No Reservations. And a half surprise half expected gift was his Storm Trooper shirt.  He sent me the link to the site a few weeks earlier but I don't think he saw they have kid sizes.   I ordered the same shirt for Annika. The camera has brought us loads of great moments but watching the two of them wear their matching shirts is really heart warming.  

And I love finding fun cards. This year's read "Bacon is Healthy" on the outside and inside "I lied. I just wanted to give you a moment of happiness on your birthday".  Perfect right?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Notes to G

Two days ago, I had you propped on pillows in bed. You were laying back a little and all of a sudden you sat up. Then I could read the expression on your face " I did it! Now what?" and then you flopped forward!  It cracked me up but I am so impressed with your stomach strength. I can see you getting stronger daily.  I know you can't wait to be sitting and standing on your own.  I look forward to it to!  

Day Date

Yesterday Dave and I got the sitter to come and hang with Annika while he and I went on a date during the day.  Gemma came with us.  She is not taking a bottle and at nearly 4 months I feel she's too young to be away from me. She's also super fussy in the evenings so doing a date at night is out of the question.   

I've been wanting to do this for a while but I didn't feel right leaving Annika behind. I was afraid she'd see it as us leaving her but taking Gemma, ie, your too much trouble.  But we saw her sitter one day and she asked when she was going to get another "play date" with her. I told her whenever she wanted but we would have to take Gemma with us. Was she ok with that?  Yup, not a problem!  She wanted to see her friend Brittney.  

So Dave and I had lunch at the LIttle Next Door in West Hollywood.  It's has great food and ambiance.  I feel like I'm in Paris when I'm there.  My friend Gifty introduced me to this wonderful place.  She is the queen of knowing all the great restaurants across town.  We went out for one of my last hoorahs before giving birth and this is where she took me. 

The restaurant's decor plus the fact that half of the dining guest and wait staff speak French makes me feel like I'm an entire ocean and continent away from LA.  After lunch we strolled on 3rd Street and shopped. As parents it's such a decadent thing to do!   

Gemma was a star. She slept through most of our meal and then was happy as can be sitting in one of our laps. It wasn't until the car ride home that she cried.  But we got out on the town!  Woohoo! Such a major accomplishment!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Moment in Time

The three of us at breakfast one morning last week.
Annika is 4.5, Gemma is 14 weeks and I'm 40.   

Dave's Birthday

I'm so behind in my postings!  But I know years from now I won't mind that I was late but I would mind if I didn't do it at all!

Dave's birthday was last month.  We knew he was going to be working on his birthday. However, he was on for a night shoot so we anticipated he'd be home sometime close to dawn.  Boy were we wrong! He was on set for 27 hours!  He ended up arriving in the evening!  We were all so annoyed!  The fact that he now gets overtime made it better....a little.  We just missed him so much that day!

We did get to celebrate even though the poor man was exhausted.  And Dave got his cake we all made for him. I say all because Annika helped and Gemma was super mellow the entire time I was frosting and baking!  I consider that helping.  We lit some sparklers and then hit the sack! We love our Dave!