On Being a Red-Headed Mommy of a Red-Headed Baby

I recently read an article on Huffington Post called, “Being a Redhead: Why It’s a Love-Hate Relationship“. Being a redhead myself, with a redheaded “ginger baby” (as the writer of this article so aptly puts it) I’ve got to admit it resonated with me.

Growing up, I was called all sorts of things because of my red hair. I was a painfully shy, awkward, nerdy kid, was bullied relentlessly in general, but my red hair was an easy target. “Pippi Longstocking”, “Little Orphan Annie” and “Carrot Top” come to mind, among some other, less appropriate remarks. I remember wanting desperately to disguise my freckled skin and dye my hair blonde (oh, to be a blonde — they clearly have more fun), but my mother would never let me. She would always tell me how beautiful my hair was.

And the 13 year old version of myself would cross my arms and pout.

Fast forward to the 27 year old version of myself, pregnant with my first child. By that point, I was older and wiser, and able to accept the uniqueness of red hair (we are only about 4% of the world’s population, I speculate that this is because, historically, so many of us were burned at the stake for being “evil”.). But whenever people would ask me, “Do you think your baby will have red hair?” I’d laugh, and have a slight pang of worry. My husband is half Italian with dark hair. I thought for sure she’d come out with his hair and complexion. And much of the time, I hoped so. I wanted to spare her the torment of the name-calling I had encountered on behalf of cruel middle school kids for being a freckle-faced, redheaded kid.

On May 29, 2008, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who had her Daddy’s facial characteristics and my pale skin and, much to my surprise, auburn fuzz. She was so beautiful. Everyone commented on how beautiful she was. And I loved that, as much as she looked like her father, she at least had inherited at least one trait that was definitely mine.

Miss A, only minutes old, with her auburn baby fuzz

A few weeks after she was born, her baby fuzz fell out and I was sure it would come back in a darker color. Much to my surprise, it came in even redder than when she was a newborn.

Just a few cute things from lately

Apologies to anyone who has been checking for posts. We’ve all been sick the past week! This post is really just a mishmash of random things Miss A is doing that I’ve been loving lately and want to get into the blog before I forget them.

* Last Saturday, she grabbed a bandaid, put it on her chin and then said, “What do I look like, a grandpa or something?”

* Her daycare had an open house a few weeks ago, where parents could come and meet the teachers and other parents, and see the classrooms, and all that good stuff. She was SO excited to have me there that she kept asking, “Can you just stay?”

* The other day, I asked her how her day was, and she launched into a story about her day at school that went something like this:

“Today, I wanted to play in dollhouse center with Ellie, but she wassided (decided) to play in housekeeping center. So I wassided to play in dollhouse center by my own self. It’s my favorite. I put the kitty in the bathtub, and then Maddie came to play, and then we wassided to go to housekeeping center.” For some reason, the word “wassided” just kept cracking me up.

* Also, over the weekend, we had a playdate (we were actually babysitting a friend’s son, who is a few months younger than Miss A), and we went to the swimming pool. Miss A can’t quite swim yet, but she stood on the side of the pool and jumped off and let us catch her. Every time we got too far away, she’d yell, “Hey, BUSTERMAN! Come back here, BUSTERMAN!”

* We’ve also come to an accord on how to answer the “how was your day” question. I’m not sure if it has to do with the new daycare she’s going to, or if her verbal skills have just come along a little more, but when I ask how her day was, she now actually TELLS me. For the longest time, she would just whine and say, “I don’t wanna talk about it!” Lately it seems like, before I can get her into the car, she’s launching into a whole tale about how her day went and what she did. For example, yesterday they made the letter A in shaving cream, and she started telling me all about it, how she traced it, and how her teacher said she did a good job, and it was fun.

And then: “And when I wake up tomorrow, I get to wear my bathing suit under my clothes because tomorrow is (whispers)…water day…”

* The other thing that CRACKS ME UP is how she confuses the months with the days of the week. I’ll tell her that we’re going to go do something, and she’ll say “Yeah! Because the month is…” and then pause for me to say the month. And then say “No!” and correct me with the day of the week.

* When I picked up Miss A from daycare yesterday, I was feeling absolutely rotten. (In fact, I still am today. I feel like that Katy Perry song…”I’m hot then I’m cold…“) Anyway, I was grumbling under my breath about not feeling well, and I guess she heard me over the music and said, “Aww, Mommy! What’s the matter?” So I said I didn’t feel good, and she said “Want me to get you some med-a-cine?” Melt my heart!

* One night when I was putting her to bed, she looked at me and said, “I love you Mommy! I love you!” I know for a lot of people, this is no big deal. My daughter is a lot like me though…she is just not expressive with her feelings (aside from tantrums)…so it felt really nice to hear that coming from her, unprompted. She also followed it up with “Nite nite, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite! Sweet dreams!”

* Last Friday, she was DOG TIRED after school, and just laid on the floor and whined while I cooked dinner. She refused to get in her chair to eat, saying, “I’m too tired!” so I said, “Well, then do you want to just go to bed?” to which she replied, “But I’m not tired!”

* Later this year we might be going on a trip up north for Mr. Dad’s cousin’s wedding, and I made the mistake of asking Miss A if she wanted to go. At first, she FREAKED OUT about going on an airplane, because it was “too scary”. Like, so scared she was physically shaking and crying at just the thought of it. This was SO strange since (1) she went on a plane at 15 months and LOVED it (and so did I, since she slept through most of the trip up) and (2) Since then, we haven’t even talked about flying on a plane, so I have no idea what would have made her think it would be scary. But, now she asks me every single day if we can go on an airplane, and then when I say, “Soon” she says, “Yeah! When the month is…?”

* She is going to be a purple kitty for Halloween. She’s already told me this. She’s also told me that her friend is going to be a ghost, and the ghost is going to scare her, and she’s going to say, “MeowAHHH!” because that’s what scared kitties say. Except, the “ahh” part is a really loud, long, high-pitched squeal.

* Also, if I haven’t mentioned it before, she’s starting to be able to read a handful of small words. She’s got Cat, Dog, Dad, Mom, and Hat. And she is genuinely reading them, as in, even when the words aren’t in front of her, she will spell them, or if she sees them on a sign while we’re driving, or in a book (or anywhere, really), she’ll point the word out and say, “Look! That says ____!” She’s really only consistent with Cat and Dog, but the others she gets about 75% of the time.

* She can write the letter A. And draw a sunshine. And aliens, with three eyes, and two arms, and four legs.

Open house!

I went to Open House at Miss A’s daycare last night. It was fantastic!

Right after her birthday, we switched daycares to move her to one that was closer to my work, and in with a friend of hers, since my niece and nephew were no longer attending the daycare she’d been going to. She’s only been there for a couple of months, so it was really great tonight to be able to go in and meet the teacher, and have Miss A show me her classroom and introduce me to her friends!

Miss A is always talking about the “dollhouse center”, because that’s apparently her favorite thing about school. So, she showed me the dollhouse center and told me all about how it works. And then we got to play in dollhouse center together! It was so great to share in something that brings her so much joy every day, but that I don’t normally get to experience.

She also showed me housekeeping center, and showed me how they do arts and crafts time (and how well she cleans up after herself at all of the centers!)

The whole time we were there, Miss A kept asking, “Can you stay, Mommy? Please, can you stay with me?” and of course I could say YES! I could tell from how excited she was for me to be there and stay with her that she loved being able to show me this part of her world.

I also got to really talk to her teacher about how she’s doing in “school”, and I’m really pleased to hear that: 1) She’s super polite, 2) she plays really well with her friends, 3) she (mostly) listens when she’s asked to do something and 4) she doesn’t give the teacher any back-talk. Seriously, with the way she has been acting at home lately, I was pretty sure she was going deaf and in need of anger management courses. She’s apparently the complete opposite and a total joy to have in the class.

The whole evening was a great opportunity to bond with each other, and it was reflected well in the way the rest of the evening went. Other than when Miss A spilled some ice water in her lap, which made her very upset and cranky for a short period of time, she was really well behaved the rest of the night. Even bedtime was a breeze. She got herself dressed (including buttoning her own pajama shirt — I didn’t even know she could do that!) and when we were done reading, she put her own books away.

I really need to find a way to take more time out of the busy hustle and bustle of the day to spend time letting her lead the way.  This night was full of joy.

The Sweetness

I was always warned about the threes. I was told they’re worse than the twos. (I also cringed upon hearing that). So far, though, I’m loving the threes.

Sure, Miss A has her moments. We had a massive meltdown this evening because she skipped her nap at daycare, was exhausted, and I started the Lion King DVD at the wrong point in the movie. (Who knew that the beginning would be the wrong part?) But for all the tantrums and unique quirks the threes bring, they also bring what I like to call, The Sweetness.

Some examples of The Sweetness:

A few weeks ago she had refused to pick up her toys, so the toys “were given to the garbage man”. She had forgotten about it until she noticed her Tag Jr was missing, and I reminded her that she hadn’t picked up her toys so we had to “give them to the garbage man”.

Her voice quivered. “But if I pick my toys up, the garbage man can bring it back, right?”

The next day, she found that her toys had returned (after being gone for two weeks) and that I had cleaned and rearranged her room, and she immediately clapped her hands and said, “Oh mommy, thank you SO much for putting my toys all away!

Another example:

We were doing an alphabet puzzle, and she would take a letter away and then ask me which one was missing. I pretended to get it wrong almost every time, but the one time I got it right, she said, “Great job, Mommy, that’s right! Give me a high five!

Yet another example:
Yesterday I worked on some much needed cleaning, organizing and “redecorating” — in the sense that I put up new curtains for our sliding glass doors and put out a new welcome mat since the one we had been using was pretty much wrecked.

After we got home from daycare, Miss A saw them and immediately proclaimed, “Ooh, I LIKE the new carpet!” and “Ooh, I LIKE the new window!

And an example with the cat:
I’ve mentioned a few times that Miss A really loves our cat, Mindy, and she is surprisingly good with her (and visa versa…for an 11 year old cat, Mindy is very tolerant of the three year old’s antics.) The other night, she went up to Mindy, gently hugged her and said, “Oh Mindy, I just love you, you’re such a cutie, doopie doopie doopie doo!

And then, of course, there was tonight, which was a delightful combination of both The Sweetness, and the other thing that comes along with the threes, which is The Silliness.

Miss A: Mommy, how old are you now? (she knows I just had a birthday.)
Me: I’m 31.
Miss A: Noooooo, mommy, you’re FIVE!

Oh, bless her heart. Last week I was eleventeen, and now I’m five. I’m getting younger!

A little while later we were singing The Wheels on the Bus song, and silly me, I couldn’t remember how all of the verses went, so she was “helping”. Did you know there’s a daddy on the bus, and he says “I love you”? Has anyone heard that version of the song before? Because I hadn’t, and I thought it was sweet.

And if all of that isn’t enough…I have lamented for three years now that Miss A is not an affectionate kid. But the past few weeks she has been full of hugs and kisses and snuggles. I love it. I hope it lasts. She even gives “nose kisses” (like she rubs her nose on my nose) and will pat your back or rub your shoulder if you give her a hug.

Heart. My girl has it.

 

Miss A Turns Three

Miss A turned three on Sunday! The day started off great. Mr Dad got up early to run out and grab some wrapping paper, since I ran out the night before, and he quickly finished wrapping her presents. Then we went in to wake her up, and she lept up out of bed and hugged us both…we said “Happy Birthday Miss A!” and she said, “YAY, I’m THREE!”

So we headed out to the living room, and the first thing she noticed was that I had replaced the cover on her PBK Anywhere Chair…and said, “Ooh, Mommy, did you got me a new chair?” The old one had been stained, faded, colored on and torn and it broke my heart. She got it for her first birthday and it was sad to have to say goodbye to it (well, I guess we’re not saying “goodbye”… I’m saving it as a “spare”…) but she LOVES her new one!

Then she got right to opening her other presents.  I think her favorite is her Disney Princess scooter, though! Good call by Mr Dad, who picked that out for her.

 

 

 

We took a trip to the park in the afternoon for her third birthday photos.

Finally, we went to a barbeque for the parents of kids 4 and under from our church. It was SO much fun! The kids were all running around, splashing in the wading pool, swinging, and generally entertaining each other so the adults could sit and chat.

 

 

 

 

We brought a cake for Miss A to the barbeque that should pretty much have wound up on Cake Wrecks. The guy at the bakery wrote what was asked him too, and then he was like…”I’m not as good as the ladies, but will this do?” At that point, we were glad for ANY cake. You see, Mr Dad had stayed up until 2 AM trying to make her a cake. He burned the first one, so he switched to cupcakes and made a second batch. The cupcakes looked AMAZING, but when we opened them the next morning to decorate them, the inside of the container had turned into ant city. Not cool. But hey, at least we had cake!

Miss A had such a blast that by the time we got home, she was sound asleep…

She had such a wonderful birthday! I am so proud of her.

Three.

It’s after midnight here, so I can officially wish my precious baby a happy THIRD birthday.

We celebrated her last day of the “terrible” twos in style. We spent the morning at a local indoor playground that Miss A LOVES. I pretty much made her day by buying her an adorable handmade ladybug hair clip in the shop. We went grocery shopping and I treated her to a cookie and small bag of candy. We visited with her cousins, who came to play in her splash pool.

I’ll have a whole post dedicated to her third birthday  soon, but I didn’t want today to go by without acknowledging that three years ago today — the day she came into this world, showing her fiery personality and zest for life by screaming her head off before she was even fully out of the womb — was the best day of my life. And every second of every minute of every day since then has been completely and totally worth it.  Life has not been the same at all since the day she was born, and I would not change a thing.

Happy birthday, Miss A. Mommy and Daddy love you more than words can say.

How did this happen?

In the past year, she’s grown up so much right before my very eyes. When she turned two, I wondered if she would EVER have hair. Since then she’s had a haircut and at (almost) three, she still has enough hair for pigtails. She’s gotten taller, lost her baby cheeks and while she’s still distinctly Miss A, she looks like the little kid version of her instead of the baby I saw just 12 months ago.

It really shows how much can happen in a year.

She officially turns three this weekend. Birthdays always bring about nostalgia, but this is a big one for me because I actually remember being three. My sister was born a few weeks after I turned three. I remember visiting her at the hospital. I remember staying at my grandma’s house. Knowing that I can remember back to this age makes me acutely aware of the things I say and do now with Miss A because I want her memories to be good ones.

She’s growing up fast, after all. One day, she won’t want me to rub her back and read her bedtime stories. She won’t greet me after school by screaming “MOMMY!” and hugging me tight. These are truly times to cherish and enjoy.

 

Miss A’s Church Dedication


“When we say “bless this child”, we are wishing for the child, the unmerited good of life. We are hoping that this child will have every opportunity to grow into their potential, not because they have earned it but just because they are.”
– Rev. K. S.

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day, but it was also the day we had Miss A dedicated at our church. A dedication in the Unitarian Universalist faith is similar to a baptism, but it’s more of a presentation and introduction of a baby or young child to the church community rather than to God. (Though if a UU believes in God or a deity of some sort, that is certainly also respected and accommodated.)

This is a photo of the pulpit at the front of our church prior to the dedication (and the one and only photo that I took that day — my sister helped by snapping the others you’ll see in a moment). The glass dish contains water that was collected during the annual water communion service that took place earlier this year and represents the purity from which the child comes. The roses are presented to each child (or the parents, in the case of a baby) with the thorns removed to represent the child’s unfolding beauty, and our commitment to protect and nurture the child as he or she grows and blossoms into adulthood. In the upper left corner is the chalice we light at the beginning of each Sunday service.

The dedication was just so moving; the entire congregation taking a commitment to help nurture our daughter (and the other baby who was also being dedicated that day), and, as our Rev. said, “be reminded of our responsibility to create a safe, just, and compassionate society for all the children of the world.” One of the best things about our faith is how it just lives and breathes love, day in and day out, and I genuinely felt it that day.

My sister, S, and brother in law, W, were gracious enough to accept the responsibility of being Miss A’s sponsors (our version of Godparents).

The whole thing went off almost without a hitch. At one point, Miss A got fidgety and lifted up her dress to show the whole congregation her underwear…that was slightly embarrassing…

When Miss A was handed her rose, she turned to Mr Dad and yelled out, “Hey Daddy! Look! I got a ROSE!” And the entire place just burst into laughter. And naturally, being the ham that she is, continued yelling it over and over again.

At the end, Rev. K had this very touching prayer:

We pray today for the future of these children.
May they dream great dreams and have the strength to follow them.
May they know abundant love and give love freely in return.
May they walk a path of truth and beauty and have justice as their guide.
We pray today for the future of these children and of us all.
~Blessed Be

 

“Hey look, I got a rose!”

 

It was truly a joyous occasion.  I am so incredibly grateful for the community that nurtures and supports our whole family, and where we can raise Miss A in a spiritual home where she is loved, accepted, appreciated and respected just for being who she is, and challenged to grow and question, and learn and love.

After the dedication was over, our regular Sunday services followed, with a beautiful sermon called Bless This Child (clicking that link will take you to the sermon’s text).

Thank you, Rev. K, for a beautiful dedication, and to S and W for standing up with us on this incredibly important day in our life.

 

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and I wanted to share a few thoughts on the special teacher in our lives, Ms. Angela.

Dear Ms. Angela,
THANK YOU for all that you do for Miss A on a daily basis. I can only imagine how challenging it must be to be in charge of a group of seven two year olds five days a week and you always have a great attitude about it. It’s your enthusiasm for teaching, even at the daycare level, that proves that teachers are not compensated nearly as well as they should be! When Miss A comes home telling me stories about the things she did during the day, whether it was a song you sang, a new sign learned in sign language, a painting, a movie, or something else new that she learned, the results of your hard work are demonstrated. I also love how you always keep me informed on the things she does, good or bad, so that I can keep an open dialogue with her.

Finally, THANK YOU times a million for your efforts in helping her get potty trained this year! I have no doubts that she would not have been potty trained as quickly without your help!

With her birthday right just a couple of weeks away, I know she’ll be moving up to the next group and she will miss you greatly — as will I! But I am happy to know she’ll still see you. Thanks always for your hard work and keep on doing a great job.

With gratitude,
Miss A’s Mommy

Got a teacher appreciation story? Link up over at Karen’s Healthy Lifestyle!

Downloading some thoughts

It feels like forever since I’ve done a real blog post!

In all honesty, the past couple of weeks have just been packed full of stuff to do. I mean…I haven’t done an honest-to-goodness grocery shopping trip in over TWO WEEKS. You can imagine how my cabinets are starting to look. But that, folks, is a good thing. I’m trying to wean us (and particularlyMiss A) off of the processed and unhealthy foods and onto more unprocessed and organic foods.

Going backwards…last weekend I accomplished one of my New Years Resolutions. We officially became members of First Unitarian (our “church”…though don’t let the phrase mislead you, it’s not a Christian church) last Friday and celebrated with a beautiful new member ceremony on Sunday morning. I feel so happy that our family now holds membership with such a welcoming and accepting community. It truly feels like a second home. I’m also thrilled that we’ve gotten more involved in the church, both through our Young Adults group and through volunteering in one way or another. I’m currently participating in a water conservation project with the church and it’s GREAT.

That Monday I also started my new job and I am just loving it. I was worried that with how much I loved my last job that I would wind up missing it, and while I do miss the people (a LOT), it’s amazing to finally be starting a career. As always there’s a transition period and a bit of a learning curve, but I feel like I’m picking it up, and I work on another team of amazing people.

Somewhere in all of this mix of excitement we found time to take Miss A on her first theme park visit (Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios), which I think we probably enjoyed more than she did. She’s scared to death of rides, but she did enjoy the splash park at Seuss Landing. I took tons of pictures so I’ll blog about that in a separate post.

We also spent time with Grandma T and Grandpa J one weekend, and spent some time with Grandma and Grandpa G (my parents) tonight.

This may be a random thought, but, I can’t believe we’re preparing for Easter already. Wasn’t it just January 1st? In fact, wasn’t it just Easter last year?

Miss A has been good. We’ve got her THIRD birthday party booked and I can’t believe in just over a month she’s going to be three. Much like the thing about Easter I just mentioned…didn’t I JUST bring the scrunchy newborn Miss A home from the hospital yesterday?

We can also scratch what I said a few weeks ago about three being better than two, because she can now throw an epic tantrum that puts the terrible two tantrums to shame. When she’s not having a tantrum though, I am totally loving her personality these days. She’s imaginative, inquisitive, thoughtful, too smart for her own good, and she’s even starting to show signs of being affectionate. Now if only she’d show that affection to me and not by giving the poor cat gigantic bear hugs…

She’s really at a crossroads right now between being totally needy and totally independent. My favorite part of this is when she interrupts me if I’m talking to someone else and if I don’t respond immediately, she says, “Hey, Mommy! I’m TALKING to you!”

I think I’m going to wrap up this post here. I hate when a blog post comes out kind of random and rambling like this, but I wanted to get a few thoughts out of my head before I forget them.