Josh turns seven

Seven years ago today, I was freaking out inside about this baby who was about to become my responsibility. I was scared. I was scared of messing up, and raising a serial killer. I was scared of never riding my motorcycle again, like most of my biker chic friends who had babies.

When I woke up this morning, seven years later, I smiled like an idiot because this little baby who turned my life upside down in the most incredible way is having his seventh birthday.

I am grateful for the many lessons Josh has taught me. He is just the opposite of me. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He is not afraid to show his feelings. He doesn’t care about what other thinks of him. He thinks he is smart, but he is not cocky. He is athletic. He is forgiving. He is not afraid to try things. He is generous.

Josh is my skiing and cycling buddy. He took up skiing 2 years ago, and he was bombing down tree runs at the end of last season. Being the chicken shit that I am, I am afraid of tree runs. He would go ahead of me, and encourage me while he stops to wait for me. “Don’t be scared, Mommy. Just look forward.” He also loves cycling with me, always pushing for another extra kilometer so he can have a new record.

Josh is an incredible swimmer. He can do laps in the pool, and dive to the bottom of the deep end to retrieve things. When we went to Cancun this summer, he did not hesitate jumping into the ocean and swim next to the whale sharks, turtles, and barracudas. When his snorkel mask fell off, he calmly put it back on, blew the water out of his snorkel, and kept swimming. My heart swells with pride when I see all this, because, you know, I cry when water gets in my eyes.

Josh loves to cook. He makes great burgers from scratch and grill them on the BBQ. He also loves helping out when we bake or make smoothies. Recently we have drastically changed our diet to incorporate more whole foods. He has really taken to grinding up sesame seeds to put on anything he eats, and uses sunflower butter on this sprouted grain bread. I still have to disguise fruits and vegetables in smoothies and soups, but it helps me feel like I still contribute to his well-being.

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Savanna turns five

Me: “Savanna, what do you want to be when you grow up?”

Savanna: “A teenager.”

*****

Five years ago, I was so worried about adding another kid into the already crazy mix. Josh was just starting potty training, and reliably sleeping through the night. Now another baby is going to join our family. I could not imagine loving anyone more than I loved Josh.

Then bam. This little girl showed up. All of a sudden, my heart threw a few sizes. There was just no doubt in my mind the moment I saw her. I’d do anything for this little being.

*****

Savanna and I are very similar, and therefore we butted heads a lot. From the moment she can speak a single word, she contradicted me. But if Cliff jumped in to the conversation, she immediately softens and listens to him.

Then we went to Morocco. It changed our relationship. It was the first time we had each other to ourselves. I began to appreciate her patience, her adventurous spirit, her tenacity, and her adaptability. She began to see I’m sometimes right. This year, we went to Costa Rica. I messed up the GPS direction, and turned a 2-hour drive into a 5-hour drive. She did not complain or whine or make a peep. She sang silly songs, played with her toys, munched on snacks, and took a nap in the backseat while I sweated it out driving the mountainous roads in a downpour.

*****

Savanna discovered this year that she can live off of mangoes alone. She loves arts, crafts, pottery, and dance. She does not like playing sports or swimming. She can ride her 2-wheel bike about 10 meters unassisted. She is capable of riding down a green run at Whistler without help.

She has little interest in building a Lego structure, but she’ll play with the figures for hours on end. Her dream of having a real cat was realized earlier this year when we adopted Jewels.

Despite her small stature, she walked into Kindergarten and was not shy about giving everyone else commands at clean-up time. We opened up her piggy bank the other night, and she put a large portion of her savings into the “investment” jar, immediately earning 10% interest from the bank of mom-and-dad. My prediction is that she is going to be a CFO one day.

*****

Savanna teaches me to savour my food, enjoy my surroundings, and not live my life for the expectations of others. She is the most incredible 5-year-old I have ever met.

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I’ve got this

A year ago today, I held my breath as I entered my “40s”. I knew looking back things have been good, but I really wasn’t sure how this new era is going to hit.

I am happy to report that now I have had a year to practice being 40, I’ve got this. It’s actually pretty damn awesome!

There were three things I was very happy about:

  1. Savanna and I traveled to Morocco. I will continue to talk about this trip for years to come. We really bonded on this trip, and I learned that she is an amazing little traveller.
  2. I am more fit than I have ever been. 21 Day Fix Extreme, P90X3, Insanity Max 30, spin, kickboxing, running and biking had me drop 30 lbs since a year ago. But it’s not the weight I’m most excited about; it’s the feeling being strong and growing stronger.
  3. I cleared out the noises in my life. Taking a social media hiatus is one of the best things I have ever done. I stopped caring so much about what people think of me and wasting time on things that do not matter. I made time to be home for dinner at least twice on weekdays.

Today we enjoyed skiing in Whistler. There is no better way to spend the day than with the very people who make my life so damn awesome.

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Josh turns six

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Dear Joshie,

If I have to sum up what you are to me, it would be that you are my inspiration.

Last winter when I saw how hard you worked to learn skiing, I was inspired to learn it too and keep practicing. When I saw how much you love swimming and how comfortable you are in the water, I was inspired to re-learn swimming and face my fears. When I saw how fearless you are with trying out roller coasters, I gathered up the courage to get on the ride with you while screaming through the whole ride.

You are kind, loving, fearless, soft hearted, and always optimistic. You make me want to be better, and be like you. Your enthusiasm for life is infectious.

You love to bake. You love riding your bike. You love going to school and being with your friends. You love puzzles and building Lego. Your favorite food is cauliflower soup, noodles, tofu, mac n cheese, and chicken strips.

In the past year, you have revealed more of your personality and interests. You have grown out of the Cars (Disney Cars) phase completely, and pretty much gotten past the peak of the dinosaurs phase. Lego is still a favorite and constant go-to, and you have really taken an interest in Pokemon. Our living room is starting to be taken over by Pokemon cards, and you constantly quiz me about Pokemon characters and their powers and weaknesses. With each phase of your life, I feel like you are just going at the speed of light and I can barely catch my breath when the next phase hits.

You have also really shown an interest in science–anything related to nature, animals, insects, or plants. You often tell me tidbits about a certain fish or a plant that I have never heard of. You amaze me with the amount of information you retain in your noggin.

You can be a typical boy. You run around the playground with boundless energy. You constantly skin your knees and put holes in your pants. You knock over things at home. You step on my toes. You forget your lunch box at school.

Yet, your softer side is present in our daily lives. When you get a treat, you always ask if Savanna can have one. You cuddle up with me in the mornings and tell me you love me. This morning you didn’t want to wake up Daddy to get your birthday present, “Just in case Daddy is extra tired today.”

I love you more than anything in the world. You amaze me and inspire me. Thank you for being my baby. Happy birthday, and I wish you all the love and adventures in the world.

Love,

Mommy

Savanna is 3.99726

Dear Savanna, my monkey girl,

Tomorrow morning when you wake up, you will be four years old. You have been looking forward to being four for a long time.

In this past year, your vocabulary expanded. Your weight hasn’t changed much, but you grew taller. You have grown to love Brussels sprouts and broccoli. You also love a good rib eye steak grilled to medium rare. But you still would prefer to live off of apples, grapes, and mangoes, or icing on a cupcake.

You are starting to use your words more to express your sadness or frustration. I want you to know that I am so proud of you for expressing your thoughts and being vulnerable. I know it’s not easy.

This year is the first time you and I went traveling together. I don’t know about you, but Morocco was a life changing trip for me. I got to spend some quality time with just you. I got to know you better, and learn about how your thought process works. And the more I got to know you, the more I appreciate you. You are a tough little nut who can walk almost 10 kilometers a day without a peep, but you are also soft hearted on the inside to fuss over kitty cats. You can also be super hilarious. When you had a chance to pick just one toy at Disney World, you skipped over all the “normal” stuffed animals and picked a naked mole-rat as your purchase.

You started skiing this past winter between my legs. I was so worried about what you would think of that first ride down the hill. But as soon as we started going, you had a smile on your face. When we stopped, you kept saying, “I wanna do it again!” Eventually, as we skied, you would tell me, “Go faster, Mommy!”

When we were at Disney World, you bravely tried all the rides you could. We did a roller coaster, and even though you were unsure and a bit scared, you tried it. You also went on the splash ride and had fun getting splashed. You were so upset when I took Josh on a big roller coaster ride you weren’t tall enough for. Your courage inspires me. I want to be brave and trusting like you.

You still don’t enjoy swimming. I can see you in the water tensing up. But I appreciate that you keep trying, and keep at it even when it got hard. When I took you into the pool, you wouldn’t let go of your arms around my neck. Guess what, I don’t enjoy swimming either. It’s a good life skill to have, so we will just both keep trying, ok?

You would play with any toys you get your hands on, whether they are dolls, stuffed animals, dinosaurs, cars, Transformers, or even just some rocks at the beach. But without fail, you always turn them into a family depending on their size. The big ones are always mommy or daddy, there is always a smaller one that is the baby. It is so interesting to me that you always act out relationships and interactions.

I love it when you pucker up your little lips and demand kisses. I love it when you wrap your arms around my neck and put your head on my shoulder. I love it when you ask me to lay down with you at bedtime, and put your blanket over me to make sure I stayed. I love it when you ask to come to the office to work with me and promise you would be quiet all day. I know one day I’ll look back on this and wish this time lasted longer.

Today, just for one last day, you are three, or 3.99726 to be exact. For just one more day, you are my little baby.

I love you, Savanna. I wish you all the love and joy and adventures in the world.

Love,

Mommy

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Josh turns five

Dear Joshie,

You turned five this past weekend, despite how much I tried to convince you to stay at four. You didn’t think it was funny to remain small.

On your birthday, we surprised you with a trip to Legoland. I will always remember how excited you got when you found out where we were going. I love how quick you are to show your feelings and wear your heart on your sleeve.

You inspire me with your love and enthusiasm for life. You bounce out of bed every morning, with a positive attitude about whatever it is to come. You are cheery from the moment you open your eyes. Your enthusiasm is inspiring, and infectious. You always say hello to all our neighbors in the elevator, putting me to shame for being quiet. You have no problem striking up a conversation with any kid or adult at the park. You believe in yourself and your values, and you are never ashamed of sharing your thoughts. You let your tears freely flow when your feelings are hurt. You’re not scared of opening yourself up to share the hurt.

Seriously, Josh, I wish I can be more like you.

You’re at such a fun age right now, where you still think I’m pretty cool and you still want to hang out with me. Since you started school, I’ve been trying to be more conscientious about holding your hand or kissing you, especially when I drop you off at school. Whenever I ask you, “Can I hold your hand?” or “Can I kiss you?”, you always say with a smile, “Yes, you can hold my hand or kiss me anytime you want, Mommy!” And I will always treasure that video of you saying, “I love you, Mommy. I am going to marry you,” for the rest of my life. I know the good days won’t last forever, but I am so grateful for the time we have right now.

You love coming to my office with me on the weekends. You love going to run errands with me. You love going for a bike ride or go play at the park. You absolutely love going to parties or visiting with friends. You are a social animal.

During this past year, you have learned how to ride a bike. You love your swimming lessons. You love your kindergarten and the new friends you’ve made. You are learning to deal with conflicts at school, and slowly learning to give people their space. I look forward to watching you grow into the little man you’re becoming.

Being your mommy is one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. Thank you for being my inspiration and my joy. I love you with all of my heart. Happy birthday, Josh. I wish you all the joy in the world.

Love,

MommyJosh

From toddler to preschooler: Savanna turns three

Last night I asked Savanna, “You are turning three tomorrow. How about you don’t turn three? How about you stay my little baby forever?” She shook her head and said no.

Damn kiddo.

Today, she turned three.

Dear Savanna,

First thing every morning, you come to my side of the bed and whisper in my ear, “Mommy, I want an apple.” Every morning you eat an apple, or grapes, or banana, or blackberries, or whatever fruit we have. Then you’ll eat cereal or oatmeal. Then you’ll have some scrambled eggs, and finish up with some milk. Breakfast is probably your favorite meal of the day.

You love make-up and accessories. If I don’t put some eyeshadow on you when I’m doing mine, all hell breaks loose. And I remember your death-grip on the mannequin in the store because you had to have those necklace and bracelets. You are the girly girl that your grandma always dreamed of having.

Right now you are very much into Frozen. You sing “Let it go” out loud on a regular basis. You come and tell me, “Elsa froze my heart,” and collapse into my arms. You pretend you’re going to kiss me, pull away the last second, and say, “I’m Prince Hans.” You are so into anything related to that movie, that this morning Daddy and I slaved over making you an Elsa cake for your birthday.

You are a tough little nut. When we took you and Josh trick or treating, you climbed up and down stairs of all the houses we visited, block after block. Even when Josh was tired out and asked to go home, you kept trucking on without a word of complaint. If I took you out on foot, I never have to worry about you not being able to walk the distance.

I love how compassionate you are. Every time Josh gets hurt, you rush to him and say, “Are you ok, sweetheart?” And you pat him on the back or on the head. If I stubbed my toe or something, you’ll run to me and smother me with kisses.

You will try to do something by yourself without asking for help, get frustrated, and end up in tears. We’ve been constantly talking about using your words and ask for help. Lately we’ve seen some great improvements, where you would ask for help to zip up a jacket, or take off your helmet, or get a toy beyond your reach, then you would smile and say proudly, “I used my words!” Yes you did, baby, and I’m so proud of you.

You are not always the most expressive, except for when it counts. One time I came home after being away a whole week for work, you threw your arms around my neck, buried your face on my shoulder, and just chanted, “Mommy, mommy, mommy…” for a long while. When I put you to bed at night, sometimes I lay down next to you on your bed, and you always puts one arm around me and say, “Mommy, don’t go. I love you.” I am completely defenceless when you do that.

This summer we put you in swimming classes, but you didn’t like it. But even though you don’t enjoy swimming, I know you tried hard and endured it enough to finish the classes. I would never expect you to excel at everything, or enjoy everything. I want you to know that I am so proud of how hard you tried.

I see so much of myself in you, that often I have to remind myself that you are your own person. I love watching you play, explore the world around you, and grow into the little kid I have come to respect. Even though you are petite and still fit in 2T clothes, your personality is larger than life.

You have changed my life from the moment you came out of my belly. I am so thrilled you are my daughter, and I cannot imagine you being anything other than exactly who you are today. Happy birthday, my girl.

Love,

Mommy Svanna-2