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Monday
Nov052018

Day in the Life Photo Shoot with Olio Style Studio

Bridezilla? Not me. But I was zealous about one thing. Documenting the day.

Aside from the obvious, (husband-to-be, family, friends) that was the most important thing to me about my wedding day 11 years ago.

Photos and video. 

If you know me, you know my long-term memory is crap. I blame it on years of general assignment reporting where your job is literally to become as well-versed as you can on one or more topics that day, digest the information, and tell it to viewers as cogently as possible. 

Rinse and repeat.

That is a daily workout for your short term memory. My short term memory became The Rock of short term memories. All buff and tatted while maintaining its gentle and sensitive side. But my long term memory atrophied. It was so rarely exercised that it sort of just...sucked at remembering things long term. I recently did a personality quiz and one of the questions, on a scale of completely disagree, mostly disagree, neutral, mostly agree, completely agree, was: Are you often in situations where people are telling stories about you and you have no memory of those stories? I was all, COMPLETELY AGREE.

So I knew that I wanted to properly document my wedding day, because I didn't want to have all these people talking about it later and me being all, "I was there? You don't say!"

And obviously being a journalist, I think the documentary/photojournalism style of recording a piece of your history is mission critical. I love the candid moments far more than the posed ones, and I love the storytelling you can glean from a series of photos.



We recently did a "day in the life" photo shoot with my friend Jay Tsai of Olio Style Studio. It's something I'd never thought to do but decided to invest in because I know exactly how fast my girls are growing up. Emerson is 9, Odessa 6 and Renley 2. It's the perfect window of time before they become too self-conscious, when we're all still together on weekends because Renley is still napping and the girls aren't in too many activities yet.


I realized there are so many moments that happen on a Saturday or Sunday that may seem mundane but when you look back on those snippets in time, they are special, in part, because they are so normal. The unposed, candid moments that capture the essence of a day in our quickly passing lives.

Seeing the girls wake up and make their beds, Odessa putting on some fake American Girl doll bangs to prank her dad, Renley's bedhead... plus all the photos that document little details about their toys, their art, how they like to play. Or when they fall off a Boble and hurt themselves.


As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. For someone who wants to remember as much as possible but has the long term memory of an amnesiac, having this snapshot in time of what we did as a family from waking up until the last story before bedtime--I loved the concept, and the collection of photos at the end definitely exceeded my expectations. 


My advice if you do a "day in the life shoot"--don't over-plan your day. Have a couple fun things to do, maybe a picnic or park visit. We happened to do our shoot on a day when we were having relatives over for dinner, so I spent a lot of time in the kitchen prepping and cooking.

It was super helpful to work with Jay, who really faded into the background and made it super easy for us to do what we normally do without feeling like we were being photographed. It takes a talented person to do that and capture really well composed images. We had a conversation later about the White House photographers and what a job that must be. Always having to be "on" to snap a potentially iconic image, and being able to witness so many historical moments.

This was not quite so epic as a White House shoot, just an ordinary day in our lives. But when we look at the final product—an adjustable length slideshow plus 1400 images--I'm so happy we did it. The girls were themselves, and now I have a video we'll force them to play at each of their weddings.

 

See how my post came full circle with weddings? BANG! Love it when that happens.

 

PS The Good Doctor was judiciously edited out of this public version of the slideshow. There are definitely more photos of him than Tofu so rest assured, he was well spot-lighted in the shoot.  #DadsRule

 

PPS Make sure you go to the gear icon in the bottom right of the Animoto slideshow window and check that it's on 720p not 360p otherwise the pics will look really blurry. And make it full screen.

 

PPPS This is an abbreviated version of our slideshow for public consumption. The Asian family version is like 30 minutes long and I’m sure my parents will make every visitor watch every. single. minute. 

 

 

 

 

Friday
Sep072018

Memo To My Girls 2018

Dear Emmy, Odessa, and Ren,

I went from monthly memos for Emerson and Odessa, to a memo every few months for Renley to now: one giant uber memo encompassing all three of you.

It's a give and take, people. Bloggity all day = no clean clothes or meals. 

That said, when I look back on all the musings I used to jot down, so much more frequently when I was a mom of one baby, not three, growing, independently minded small ladies-to-be, I'm so happy I took that time because I wouldn't remember a damn thing without those posts. 

Life is FLYING by. Maybe it's just my own habit of pressuring myself to make each day a productive one in some way, but the presence of constantly growing children really heightens this feeling of how fleeting life can be, and how quickly it progresses.

One moment you are rubbing balm on chapped breastfeeding nipples and watching entire seasons of Mad Men while pumping liquid gold into freezer bags, the next you're being asked questions about why the California license plate doesn't have any pictures on it or how come veins are blue. All of which I refer to The Good Doctor or the Google. One thing I've learned: apparently I know nothing about how anything works and other people seem to remember what they were taught in school or they just know stuff. I'm always like, "Hmm. Not sure. Daddy probably knows."

The one area of confidence I have, and I knock on wood as I dare to even type this and therefore commit it to reality and the Wayback Machine, I know how to teach you girls everything I have learned about how to navigate the world.

Not that I have all the answers or that I'm doing this 100% correctly, but I have so much knowledge stored up in this brain to share with you. Being a mom to you 3 is like being a mentor on steroids on meth on PCP. 

I want to teach you how to identify and hold on to good friends, female and male. How to deal with mean girls and other awful people you will encounter. How to put on eyeliner correctly. That you're supposed to curl your hair starting from the top, not the bottom (which I didn't learn until 2018.) How to work smarter, not always harder. How sometimes though, it is only hard work that gets you where you need to go and no one else can do it for you. How to be resilient. How to permit yourself to wallow and really feel the feelings and when it's time to say "Enough" and move forward. How to love yourself without apology while leaving room to see others through the most generous lens. How to be kind. Truly kind. How to know when you should be selfish. How to cope. How to be decisive and confident about what you choose. How to admit quickly when you're wrong. How to hold your opinions fiercely and let them go easily when faced with another viewpoint that makes more sense.

I was never like Daddy, 11 years old, shooting hoops and excited about when I'd someday teach my kids to play basketball. Maybe that was a function of being an only child or not really thinking about how to take care of others when I was younger or the time I babysat some neighbor boys and picked up a dinosaur full of stale pee that sloshed onto the carpet, but I wasn't really a parent/caretaker type growing up. 

I didn't think about you girls much until you actually came into the world, if we're being honest. I didn't read a single parenting book until Renley was born. Yeah, late to the party on that one. I kind of governed based on on instinct. And because I was lucky to have your father's steady, studied, anal, thoughtful parenting style to lean on, I didn't stress too much.

Now, nine years into this whole endeavor, I am coming to a series of revelations. 

Becoming your mom was transformative in every possible way. Not all at once, but it's easily the single most astonishing change I've ever undergone, including puberty. Which was...not all that major? I still didn't get hips until you guys came along.

Speaking of which, puberty will also be an interesting topic to talk to you about. By far Odessa, you've asked the most questions about front bottoms and back bottoms and the "string" you saw when you witnessed a boy peeing at pre-school. "What was that thing? Between his legs?" So far, the ole, "Boys and girls have different parts" has sufficed. 

But I'm ready. I'm easing into "The Talk" with a book we just picked up from Costco that I'm trying to strategically leave out for Emmy to read, then we'll see how this info trickles down. 

For now, Mother's Day still seems very much like a day to celebrate Asian Grandma and White Grandma.  I still don't really identify with being a "mother" in the way you might expect someone with THREE children to feel. I don't think I've quite earned the title. Yes, I have you amazing girls, but I've not put in enough work to consider myself a mother to celebrate with brunch.

Still, I did bring you onto the planet, and now that you're here I'm grateful every day, many times a day (except for around bedtime when I JUST WANT YOU TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH AND GO TO SLEEP) for your jokes and funny laughs and sweet sweet moments when you're so nice to Renley even though she's given each of you a black eye by slamming a tiny board book onto your face unexpectedly. True story. Each of you was book-battered within the space of 48 hours by a serial baby book batterer.

One moment she's smiles and coos and the next she's Darth Vader and merciless, grumpy-voiced and demanding whatever you're eating/playing with/holding or she will yank your hair as she sees fit.

That is a stage is she slowly outgrowing, but Ren has already been in more timeouts in 2 years of existence than both big sisters in your combined 15 years. 

Renley-you are so affectionate, talkative, and observant. You're like a little macaw who can repeat all sorts of phrases and complete sentences, generally at the right time, with a beak that can also snap a broomstick in half without warning. Cute but dangerous. You've earned the nickname Wreck It Renley for your love of destruction. The other girls liked to stack blocks and make things; you prefer to hurricane chop down their hard work and saunter off with nary a look back over your mullet covered shoulder.

You lavish kisses and hugs on Asian Grandma, only to look up and ask in your most adorable voice, "Watch Elmo?" Once the iPad is set, you dismissively instruct her, "Go back to your kitchen." WTH. How have we created this tiny monster?

But you are a snuggler through and through. You love to pull up the comforter and put your head on the big pillow and squinch your eyes closed to pretend you can sleep in the big bed. You love to command us to "Tickle me!" while raising both arms high above your head. You're a pro at doing your modified macarena while singing "Bum didda bum didda bum didda bum didda heyyyy Macarena."

You can say your L's if we really practice first with la la LOLLIPOP but most of the time you subsitute the Y sound instead, so "Look at me!" is "Yook at me!" and "lion" is "yiiion." Your favorite word is still "MINE!!!" 

You kind of don't know what you're talking about 20% of the time but you kind of do a legit job of faking it and joining in the conversation by repeating whatever the last person said. 

You love to call Daddy by his first name, especially in public, where you like to give a friendly wave to certain strangers and introduce him from your perch in the shopping cart. You also like to point at random white men in the grocery store and loudly say, "That's DADDY!" You will also say all bearded men are Uncle Mike. #allwhitemenlookalikesyndrome

Still comfy in your crib, where we plan to keep you for as long as possible, and still napping. "I wake up. I wake uuuuuuuppppp. All done. I'm awaaaaaaaake. Where are youuuuu." It's a little Jack Nicholson from The Shining but that's our cue to pick you up in the mornings and afternoons. 

You're very aware of the daily shift changes in who takes care of you. Weekday mornings you want Mommy to "Hold me, hold me," until it's time for me to leave. Then you're great with being transferred to Asian Grandma, "Bye bye" no tears. Post bath, you want me to dry you off and put on your pajamas. Weekend mornings, you're calling for Daddy by his first name to come get you. 

Any deviations from the routine are met with anger and fury. You are what they would call a Terrible Two cut straight from the mold. It sucked because you started early as a Wicked One, as the girls put it. 

Full on tantrums and crying for no reason other than I wouldn't give you all of the chocolate chips for breakfast or someone dared to give you a broken cracker instead of a whole one. Fortunately we know you'll live so I try not to let you turn all of my hairs gray at once. Best way to pull you out of the depths is by fast talking and telling you stories or reminding you what we did during the day or what we're about to do. You love to listen to explanations and verbose, simplified and overly exaggerated descriptions of everyday life. 

You just started preschool this year. Still some tears a few weeks in, but you love to paint and eat snacks and push the baby strollers around and you already know all your teachers' names. Endless talking and you're so jaunty. You're already in underwear most of the day except for naps. Chocolate chips and dehydrated strawberries as your potty reward. Heart melter when you pull us in close and say "I yuv you so much."   You're a keeper.

 

Odessa. First grade, for reals? Last night you literally said, "I think Ping Chang* is in love with me." To which I had to will my eyebrows to stay down and casually follow with a, "Mmm really, why do you say that? "Because of how he looks at me." I AM SO SCARED RIGHT NOW. Apparently this Ping Chang is a gallant boy who has said, "Stop that" to some other overactive boy when he gets into Odessa's space. Obviously he must be in love with her. #OdessaLogic. Also, where does she even get these concepts?

Again, as Renley likes to say, "I scared!"

You're a newly minted yellow belt Taekwondo kicking, board breaking, Yes Sir No Sir strong as ever person. Six years old and so resolute. Lots of deep thoughts going on, with musings like, "Deep down inside I know I'm going to pass my yellow belt test. But even deeper down I'm nervous I won't."

Or, "Sometimes I choose things then I feel bad that I chose them." Which I responded to with a lesson on regret and why it's a feeling you should try not to hang onto and how I am pretty good about not regretting things because there's nothing I can do about them except learn and move forward and then you interrupted with, "Well I'm not you." And I had to laugh.

You're not me but your mind works a lot like mine it seems. You're stubborn and self-reliant for entertainment. You're a doer. You're juggling middle sisterhood well, because it's hard to have a sweet and capable older sister who seems to do everything just a little more skillfully (because she's almost years older than you) and a small and tyrannical younger sister. 

Sometimes you say things about not liking yourself or wishing you could be like fill-in-the-blank. I don't know where any of that comes from, but I try not to freak out too much. I think you're just extremely hard on yourself.

But you're also brimming with confidence about certain things and you naturally attract a following wherever you go. Hence, my bewilderment with some of your self-loathing comments that just don't jive with how you exist in the world.

You make things so interesting and funny in this family and we are always grateful for it.


Emerson. 9 years old and such a stunner. Your art and organizational skills would wow Marie Kondo. Ever since you read those books, I hear a lot of questions about whether my stuff sparks joy. YES EMMY IT DOES NOW WORRY ABOUT YOURSELF. Oh wait, your room is spotless while my closet is a blast zone. 

A better big sister we could not ask for. So gentle and kind with Renley, despite her ravaging your neatly arranged room on the daily. It drives you to tears sometimes when she's hurricaned your doll's closet yet again and left carnage strewn all over your floor. 

Speaking of tears, you still have a tenderness that your pre-school teachers identified way back when. If you don't get the right answer on a spontaneous multiplication question right away, you're quick to get emotional. Is it a hint of your inner perfectionist? Whatever it is, I want to figure it out and help you reinforce and harness that reaction. The world is tough and tears are ok but save them for the pillowcase, not the kitchen when Daddy's checking your math memory.

I think some of it comes from the fact you're super sensitive and you have an EQ that seems off the charts. I rarely have to give you a side eye about reading a situation--with adults or kids. It's uncanny. I just don't want that sensitivity to make you too vulnerable. 

You're playing piano and bball and you love to draw. You and Odessa are huge into books and that's generally what you're doing if you're not playing "Mommies and Babies" with your 27 jillion stuffed animals. 

You're heading into 4th grade like a boss. You have a sweet and interesting group of friends who spend recesses doing backbends and random gymnastics. I'm so impressed with your inner confidence when it comes to knowing yourself and what you're about. I pray we can keep building on that because I've already seen some of the ways girls hurt each other. #sharpobjects

 

 

All three of you: I am astonished and beside myself all the time when I take stock of who you were, are, and will become. I promise to always be my best for you. 

Love,

Mama

 

*Name altered to protect the innocent

Photo: Jay Tsai Photography

 

Wednesday
Aug152018

Stephen Curry and Emma

This summer I signed my daughter up for a Warriors basketball camp with her friend Emma. They had tons of fun, worked on their bball skills, the week ended. Then a couple weeks ago I get an email with the subject line “Your Daughter Has Been Selected to Participate in Stephen Curry's All-Girls Camp”

I’m in the car with the whole family for our Costco run and I start reading it out loud as The Good Doctor is driving.

Me: “Congratulations! Your daughter has been selected to participate in the first ever all-girls camp presented by Stephen Curry."

The Good Doctor: "Hmm. OK."

Me, reading faster because this is shaping up to be epic: "This FREE 2-day camp will give participants the opportunity to spend time on the court and learn from the two-time MVP and three-time NBA Champion.”

The Good Doctor: "Wait, what, free?"

Emmy from the back seat: "That sounds cool."

Me: "The session is invite-only…”     

Just as we’re getting out of our minds pumped about this email (but also slightly skeptical because it seems too good to be true) I read further down… and the invite is for Emma.

Not Emmy.

Just Emma.

Record scratch.

Turns out, the email was sent to me because I signed up both girls under my account to expedite the whole registration process.

At this moment, as a parent, you gotta pivot pivot pivot. I turn around to tell Emmy it’s actually an email for Emma, and it’s because “Emma practices a lot, she plays a lot, and you remember how she also went to another basketball camp and she went last summer too? This is SO cool for Emma, I’m so proud of her for getting this opportunity!”

Plus, she can actually make a free throw and she scored points during the camp scrimmages. This was definitely an awesome experience and it was selective.

I’m side-eyeing The Good Doctor like #DamageControlAlert

He's looking at me like #ThreatLevelOrange

In retrospect, I’m sure we were more crestfallen than she was. She took it in stride. The Good Doctor, a lifelong Warriors fan before they were this current super bionic dynasty team, needed a little more pep in his step after finding out he wouldn't be driving the carpool for this camp. 

I forwarded the email to Emma’s mom, like, “Dude, EMMA MUST DO THIS!”

Turns out they were going to be in Southern California during the camp and Emma couldn’t go.

Second record scratch.

Her mom told me it was such random timing because Emma was just saying how much she’d like to meet Steph for her birthday and her mom was like, “Yeah…how ’bout some squishies instead?”

But now, it was LEGIT REAL. A surprise basketball camp!!! Led by Stephen Curry. For FREE.

They ended up doing what parents do—they made it work. They adapted their family vacation for this special experience for Emma and I just love how it all turned out.


We used it as a lesson for Emmy about hard work and practicing to be good at something and how life sometimes surprises you with these opportunities.

Emma learned her perseverance resulted in an incredible experience with one of her favorite Golden State Warriors. And she had a blast!

Tons of girls at the camp, Stephen was there for hours showing them drills and playing the sport he’s worked so hard to excel in. The team brought their three championship Larry O’Brien trophies for the girls to see. Plus Emma got two high fives with #30. (And her mom got one.) All around such a win!

 

 

 

Thursday
Jun212018

How Women Lead

From time to time I get asked to emcee events. Or, as I prefer to say, be the Mistress of Ceremonies. Minus the whips and leather. But last night I was the moderator of a panel that included a sort of insane lineup of women:

  • Libby Schaaf, Mayor, City of Oakland
  • Robin Hauser, Director, Finish Line Features
  • Julie Hanna, Special Advisor, X (formerly Google [X]); Former Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship
  • Jenny Lefcourt, General Partner, Freestyle Capital
  • Blye Rocklin|Faust, Film Producer
  • Sandra Lopez, VP, Intel Sports

 

Right. 

So I'm on stage doing what I do, introductions, sharing an anecdote, and then getting the show on the road. Very welcoming and friendly crowd at the Julia Morgan ballroom. Mostly women, all stages of their careers. We have a list of questions to help move the conversation along--and we showed clips from Robin's film "Bias" which is an insightful documentary about how we need to recognize our inner prejudices and figure out how to overcome those negative biases that make for a crappy workplace/world.

I'm oversimplifying but that's why you have to see the film. 

It's fantastic getting a chance to facilitate a conversation between highly successful, generous, insightful women. For a journalist who is naturally curious to be allowed to hold a microphone and sit next to a set of women I'd never otherwise meet--it's sort of nirvana. I'm on stage peppering the conversation with questions, quoting Beyonce, "Gimme my check, put some respeck on my check/ Or pay me in equity/Watch me reverse out a deck (skrrt)" and taking notes so I can share with you what left an impression on me. 

The panelists answered questions about everything from increasing the number of women and minorities in the circles of power to how they negotiate salaries. I don't know if a recording or transcript exists of the event but here are some of my takeaways from the night. 

1. When negotiating salary, know your data. One panelist said a junior member at her firm circulated an anonymous survey to encourage everyone to enter their jobs, experience level and salary. Obviously that's not going to work if you work in a tiny office, but it's one way to get info that can be awkward to find out face to face. Of course, if you're Asian like me, you grew up with everyone asking everyone how much they paid for everything so those money conversations aren't so foreign. And then everyone buys the same gray Honda Accord. 

2. Also, don't go to the meeting only with the mindset of "Let me convince you why I should make this." Keep in mind you can challenge the decision makers with: "The other people/partners/staffers who are at my level make X and get X benefits, can you tell me why I shouldn't also receive that compensation?" It puts the challenge back on the manager instead of forcing you to be the person who has to build an impenetrable case. Again though, you need to have your facts straight before you make this statement.

3. Enlist the men, enlighten the men, the men are not the enemy. Meaning: it's OK to bring family into the conversation. A male manager/co-worker is going to become a dad? Ask him how he plans to balance his work and family. Is he planning to take time off? These are mini shifts in the conversation that can be 'teachable moments' because these are questions women get asked all the time that men rarely consider. 

4. Ask the women. Sometimes managers think they're doing "Jenny" a favor by not considering her for the promotion because it requires travel and weekends away from home and "she has two young kids at home." Don't assume that! If she's just as competent and qualified, offer the oppportunity and let her make the decision. 

5. Call out jacked up behavior or statements but find a way to do it without making someone defensive. The example: a guy said something to one of the panelists that was well intentioned, but had the wrong impact. She took him aside and said, "I know what you meant, but this is how it landed. I know you, so it's cool, but if you said that to someone else, consider how it might be taken." Obviously this is not a one size fits all but that's a great approach when possible.

6. Built a trusted network. Knowledge is your power and you can only get that when you talk to others and swap stories. You can find those people, and you must.

7. We are all products, perpetrators, and victims of bias. Let that one sink in.

8. It's not enough to just be a role model. Great, you're there. But what are you doing to help those coming after you?

9. Add value to the bottom line. You have to motivate by greed, not fear. Basically, what's good for business is always going to be the best way to appeal to your bosses in any situation/negotiation. 

10. Stop thinking about promotions and growth and providing more opportunities for a diverse group as a power equation because power is a zero sum game. Popele freak out if they think giving opportunities to others takes away from them. Think of it as a talent equation. Mayor Schaaf gave the analogy: Your loved one is sick. Wouldn't you want everyone possible to be looking for that cure? Why would you keep half of the talent pool out of the mix (ie women). 

11. Diversity will lead to more complex but potentially more complete solutions. It's annoying to be in a meeting with a bunch of conflicting viewpoints vs a room with all the same people with the same background who say "Yep" and move on, but you'll probably come up with a way better finished product. I know that firsthand whenever I work with a producer who challenges 97.8% of everything I say and do. It raises my blood pressure at least 7 points but I will say Kevin makes the work better. He will never win the conversation about why I don't wear flats to work though.

12. Praise publicly, criticize privately. An oldie but a goodie. 

13. For my young women interns and mentees who always ask me how to be a woman in news and also have a family, I always tell them they have to go after family and finding the right partner with the same fervor as they go after the next job in a bigger market. But Sandra from Intel also had a great point about prioritizing. Sometimes your kids will be the priority and sometimes your work will be the priority. It's such a simple point but she synthesized something I do all the time without ever thinking of it that way. I will be at the Spring Sing, but I had to miss the hip hop dance. I will see it on the $40 DVD (highway robbery). Is it easy? No. But in the long run, your kids will know they matter, and that work also matters. I think that's A-OK. Because how else can I buy that freaking $40 DVD?

14. #dadguilt is so not a hashtag. While my husband and I can have a healthy debate over that, by and large, it's not a thing. So let's move past #momguilt too.

15. Celebrate your discomfort when you're the only person in the room who is black/Asian/female/gay etc etc. I think this is an interesting point and one that is definitely nuanced. NEVER use your difference as an excuse or for leverage. At least, I never do. I could definitely related to what Sandra said about feeling like, "WTF are you talking about?" when a white dude asked her, "What's it like to be a Latina woman in your job?" because it's not how she identified herself. She's a boss because of her work ethic, her achievements, her value to the company. She's not there BECAUSE she's a Latina woman and in fact for a long time she tried to avoid bringing that dimension of herself into the boardroom. But then she realized she should embrace it because it added to her company's value that she knows the Latin comsumer, how they interact with technology, what sports they care about. 

I can relate because I'm not running around consumed with what it's like to be an Asian/Vietnamese female investigative journalist. But when I'm at a conference packed with white men, I do realize, oh hey, this is a thing. And I make a point of saying how my life experiences are different and how that translates to how I do my job. I think there's a balance between being open about how you, the whole you, relate to your profession because of your life experience versus constantly flying your minority banner when it's not relevant.

16. Sometimes the dudes just don't know any better. Loved this point from Jenny, who works with a lot of rich bros in her venture capitalist world. Many of them have wives who stay home full time, sometimes with the assistance of the nanny. When they ask, "How do you work AND be a mom?" it can be a legit question because their brains can't process how you can possibly do the job they see their wives doing at home AND the job they also see you doing at work. It's like you'd need to be TWO people. So just gently help them understand how you prioritize. (See point 13) And then ask them if they're going to their kid's Halloween parade (see point 3). Then try not to roll your eyes hella hard when everyone applauds them for being such an involved dad while turning to ask you why you're taking time out of your day to attend a children's event. :) 

 

 

 

 

Friday
Mar162018

Memo to Renley: ONE YEAR

Renley J,

It's pretty official.

I've enjoyed babyhood with you the most.

I think it's because I know you are the last. Final. Ultimo. No one else will ever emerge from this womb. 

So I'm savoring all the moments. Like at least 88% of them. That's a B+, like your dad's personality type. I'm an A+, he's a B+. I normally wouldn't celebrate anything less than a 4.0 but I've relaxed with time. And given the fact I am SO NOT A BABY PERSON and you're the THIRD BABY PERSON I've had the pleasure of creating, it's sort of astonishing to me how much I love you as a baby. 

It's ironic that I'm enjoying you the most as a baby when you're technically the worst as a baby. Worst sleeper (except apparently Daddy thinks you're best napper), loudest crier, most violent and injurious, most prone to crazy temper tantrums with flailing and screaming. I've never been told by so many strangers out in public, "Wow you really have your hands full." Your mullet hair don't care if we're out and about, you will voice your concerns and let your disgruntled flag fly freely, right in the open. I've become 'that' mom. The one who walks into a store, has her baby scream, yell, arch her back and knock something over, startle the clerks, and then I'm so flustered I have to just corral the big sisters, apologize, and leave.

That's you in a nutshell. What Renley don't want, Renley don't do. 

And YET, I'm just inhaling you every chance I get. Nuzzling your fat baby neck and nomming on your back and belly and drinking up every hug you hand out. And you give the best hugs for a person under 25lbs.  They're so satisfying, and you lean in and put the weight of your oversized baby head right on my shoulder and you do the thing Oprah says you're supposed to do to make a hug really meaningful: hugging for like 20 or 30 seconds without releasing the pressure. You do that and it's uh-mazing.

You have a mouthful of shark teeth. So many teeth. You eat all of the things. You skipped the baby food stage and went straight to spaghetti and chicken curry, beef stew, all proteins. "Meat, meat" you're fond of saying. You're like a little WWE wrestler in training with the amount of food you put away. 

You're happy and smiling and mostly enjoyable. But you have very little middle ground. You're hero to zero in 3 seconds flat. 

We gave you a giant waterslide pool party for your first birthday. Ghetto fabulous waterpark backyard edition. You hosted like a champ, no tears, chilled in the plastic blow up pool. Ate some cake and called it a day. It's so nice having one summer baby where I know the weather will allow for an outdoor celebration. Plus, everyone knows summer birthdays are rad.

By the lunar calendar you're a fire monkey. Smart, passionate, adventurous, business minded. Famous monkeys include: Leonardo da Vinci, Charles Dickens, Yao Ming, Daniel Craig, and Gisele Bundchen, Selena Gomez, and of course the Empress Wu Zetian of China's Tang Dynasty. You're in excellent company. 

If there is one wish I have for you after your first birthday, it's that you have at least 99 more filled with health, happiness, and love. We will do our best to ensure that happens. (Keep in mind you're 3rd in line for resources and we're not getting any younger, so the whole pull yourself up by your bootstraps is probably a good motto to start embracing now.)

Love you Rendoodle,

Mama