Where’s the love, Ri?

Every once in a while I find myself perusing the BabyCenter.com e-mails delivered to my inbox. While Ri has long since advanced beyond the weekly milestone reports, sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that we’re on the right track in this race to create superior offspring. I don’t know who I’m competing against, and I really don’t care. I learned a long time ago that comparisons with friends is a huge no-no of the shake your head emphatically and cluck your tongue in reply magnitude. Yep, I still catch myself thinking “My child did that eons ago, what took ya’ll so long.” Then I admonish my silent brag and remember that each one of my “feathers” has sped through or lagged behind on some growth (and maturity) marker along the way.

The most recent article was one that teased my maternal heartstrings: “7 signs that your toddler loves you.” I mean, it’s the week of Valentine’s Day when love is all anyone is talking about. My youngest isn’t talking much yet – except of course to chant “Da-da-da” or “aye-t” (eat). She’s long forgotten “Ma,” which she used to say with ease. And she’s pretty expressive non-verbally, so she’s not really trying to use her words, whatever ones she might possess.

So I couldn’t resist peeking at this little information gem. Does Ri love me, her mama? Can a toddler really love? Does she even have a choice? [Feel free to gasp or insert “dundundun!!!!” sounds for emphasis on that last one.]

Given opportunity, Ri makes her preferred person of the moment known. One minute it is big brother, the next, it’s youngest brother (or his snack). Playtime means seeking the one with the best energy – maybe Chi, maybe one of the littles. If she’s hungry, no one satisfies quite like mom, with the built in milk jugs. And if she’s sleepy? Well, it depends on her mood – Dad, Rico, Mom, anyone who’ll cuddle and lay still.

Ri blue-babySo where is the love? The article reports the proof is in the display.

7 signs that your toddler loves you:
1. She mirrors your face.
2. She takes her opinions (and reactionary cues) from you.
3. She copies your behavior.
4. She engages with you, gives you attention.
5. She uses you as home base.
6. She turns to you for rescue.
7. She seeks comfort from you.

The verdict? Yep, she loves me. No need to pluck petals from a flower on that one. Heck, seems like she sort of loves all of us… even strangers. Miss Social Sass is forever engaging audiences and drawing in the responses.

Not here, there

Mama goofed big time. I watched as the silver Caddie sped away from the curb. It was barely 4:30 in the morning and the sun had yet to break out above the horizon. I juggled my purse, our combined suitcase, and my loaded turquoise camera bag – careful not to tip the latter, thus spilling the contents dangerously to the concrete floor. (How foolish to buy this “fashionable” case with the open flap that had no consideration for secure closure!) Ri sat wriggling in her stroller, fighting against the seat belt that confined her to it.

The check-in was nearly empty, with the only two attendants assisting in bag checks. A row of waiting kiosks beckoned, their screens showing “push start to begin.” I navigated the winding path leading to the vacant machines and tapped the blinking button. With so few people in the building, there was plenty of time, still, to get through security and board my 5:45 am flight. It asked for my name, which I gave it. It returned with something like “ticket not found. Choose another entry option?” Huffing, I fumbled for my ticket confirmation paperwork and entered in the number recorded there. This time the machine replied, “Error. See attendant.”

The two attendants were still busy, processing seemingly endless papers as they scanned bar codes and printed off receipts and other documents. I happened to notice another woman lingering near the ropes dividing priority check-in from the general lines. “Excuse me,” I began, not clear whether she was a waiting passenger or an airline agent. She turned toward me, aggravation obvious in her twisted, tight lipped grimace. I saw, then, her name tag and airline affiliation. “Umm… the machine says I should see attendant. I’m supposed to have a 5:45 flight to Houston.”

She reached out and snatched my paperwork, scanned the flight information and shoved it back at me. “You’re supposed to be at DCA. That’s Reagan National. There’s your problem,” she said, as she turned on her heels and walked quickly away.

Giraffe obsessed? Yes.

Zulilly has this awesome search feature for finding specific things – you know, types of clothing, a particular vendor, or a theme… And, because they sent me an e-mail advertising their featured vendors that including Little Giraffe, I thought, ‘I’ll check in and see what they’ve got.’ Ri’s a little beyond the stuff that particular featured store offers, but I got ambitious and decided I simply must look up all things giraffe just in case there was something I need acquire for my **ahem** Ri’s collection.

I found these:

IMG0210webSwoon. One pair left in her theoretical size… except her feet are particular. They probably won’t fit, and they’re not returnable. Splurge anyway? Dilemma!!!

Truth is, Ri doesn’t exactly gallivant about town showing off her wardrobe. And as a new walker, she’s brutal on shoes if she even succumbs to wearing them. So, I wont indulge in this purchase.

But any other giraffe item? Well, I make no promises. Someday Ri will have a room to display her collection. I had bunnies. Chi has… well, I’m not sure what she collects – Littlest Pet Shop, maybe, or those puff stuffed creatures with big eyes.

I might be a little obsessed.

First 52: Happy Birthday Cinco!

This is so late! Right now, you are already on the verge of 13 months old! But, let’s recap anyway (because, as you’ve learned, Mama is often late with things).
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Before your first birthday, you became a model!

IMG0790webThis year, with a photo of you at just three days old, you began your career as a print model in Model Life magazine’s TIME issue.
You clinched a cover spot in August for Shining Faces Children’s Magazine. You’ve appeared in almost every issue since.
Your pictures appeared in several issues of Sparkle Bebe Model Magazine as a weekly contest winner.
You were #37 in the 50 Most Beautiful Angels edition of Angels in Glitter magazine (big sister Chi was #18).
You are a multi-month featured child for the 2014 Shining Faces Children’s Magazine calendar.
You were chosen as the “I Model for My State” representative for Washington, D.C. in Pose modeling magazine’s holiday issue.
You were featured in the 2013 Holiday issue of Model Life magazine.

Kirin and you – not a pair for all time

I tried really hard to come up with a concept for your monthly baby photo… Or rather, a concept I thought was pretty adorable popped into my head and I ran with it. As Cinco, you didn’t get the fortune of having your own room, but I accessorized you as though you did. (Sorry, hubs, I am still learning restraint.) My favorite animal – the giraffe – was to be your “thing.” Dad won you a Mom-sized giraffe stuffed animal (who spent much of last year living in our tub!). I picked up a giraffe here and a giraffe there while meandering through various stores and while online shopping. Kirin, your little anime giraffe, came with a mint green blanket shortly before you were born and he was to be your featured friend in each month’s photo. You, however, decided that was not to be. And by month 10, Dad declared “She’s outgrown Kirin.” Oh, well.

Walking this way

It happened like this: we sat in the small bedroom of Grandma Jean’s apartment. We’d been there for hours watching syndicated television and cringing as stomachs cried out for sustenance. Uncle arrived and flipped to the Cowboys game. Attention was riveted to tackles and fumbles. And then as they hollered, you realized no one was watching you fiddling with a well-loved toy. You stood up, teetering momentarily, and took a timid step. Half a dozen quick steps followed before you stopped, having reached the living room. We cheered – for you this time – and you smiled. A week later, you were master of the power walk. And now? You run!
walker web

Santa’s baby

santa #2Last year, Mommy was in the hospital for much of the time leading up to Christmas. We didn’t have much opportunity to enjoy our traditions of making ornaments, having breakfast with Santa, or even getting into the retail chaos (though I’m not sure I missed that last activity). This year, however, you met with two Santa stand-ins and completed a salt dough ornament (after sabotaging – or maybe, embellishing – your sibling’s work).


RiAnne 1st bday shoot web Your snorting, baying laugh is just odd enough to be cute despite Daddy’s best efforts to eliminate it. Scrunched nose, inhaled breath, squeezed shut eyes – - all are signs you are, indeed, Mama’s child.

Your favorite person continues to be your “Waldo.” Let him walk past our bedroom and you spot him without fail, stopping whatever you are doing and whimpering until he scoops you up. The two of you always pause in the doorway, and you open and close your fist in a wave before snatching your whole arm to your chest, lest I try to retrieve you from him. He lets you “play” with his wrestling men, if gnawing on their heads is considered play. He lets you play games and listen to music on his phone and tablet. And when you grow tired, he holds you close and rocks you to sleep (often joining you in a nap with arms protectively wrapped around you). In every way he loves you, and you clearly love him, too.

A side note: Fake food needs a disclaimer for you. If left holding one of my props for any length of time, you never fail to sample a taste. Those razor sharp teeth have left many a mark!

First, you must crawl

And then? upup
You stand.


And throw your talking Cookie Monster because, we know, he is too loud.

You should also scuff up your brand new shiny shoes, which you really didn’t want to wear anyway.

Get in there

I admit it: I am rarely in a photo with my children.
Girls, No. 3 13
It’s not because I shy away from the camera. Point one toward me, and I am likely to burst into an over-the-top scrunch-nosed, big open-mouthed smile. It’s not pretty, either. Then, all my chins – which seem to be increasing with my age – are showing. My freckles and scars are plain to see. My flock of crows etch the corners of my eyes. Additional curves adorn my waist where none should be. A flat and wide backside does injustice to jeans meant for more substance.

And yet I yearn to be caught.

To be preserved. To leave a visual impression – - something more than a fading memory of presence.

I’m not the only photographer here. I’m not the only one to record our legacy.

What about me?
Girls, No. 3 13 (too)

I need to be part of the portrait – included, even if rarely, in the collection being built for my family. And so, I tote my tripod. I carry my frequently fickle remote control. I beg, plead, bribe my kids into staging photo shoots. And sometimes? They actually humor me.
Mom & Ri, No.3 13

Even more special? When Chi – or Rico, when he’s home for the weekend – volunteer to hold the camera and snap a few quick pictures. Unposed. Real. Me, enjoying the moments with my children. Enjoying the treasure trove of experiences that motherhood offers.


I must insist more often. Perhaps equip them with a camera, too. Become a fixture in the image. Exist within the frame of snap shots taken to hold onto moments.
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