This man

… has been a revelation to me in the past year as a husband, friend, lover, partner, and most of all, as a father. I knew he was going to be good, but I never knew he was going to be this good.

Marlon and Tala bath

This man has been hands-on literally from day one. He holds his daughter with as much loving tenderness today as he did when she was a few days old.

Marlon and Tala in Greece

This man is always happy to see her and eager to take her in his arms. He adores her, dotes on her, gives his weekends to her, and she knows it. He has to be told, sometimes, actually many times, to put her down and let her play and learn by herself.

Marlon and Tala

This man swoops to my rescue when the last grains of my energy and sanity have fallen through the hourglass. His strong arms have carried his daughter up and down endless flights of stairs in airports, train stations, museums, our home.

Marlon and Tala in Paris

This man takes his daughter to the market every Saturday to give me precious time for myself. He occasionally returns with a new discovery—wild mushrooms, carob syrup, a lobster, how to shuck oysters—that fills him with an infectious delight. This man truly loves to cook for his family, and always makes sure I have a matching fork and spoon (because he knows I care about weird things like that). Marlon and lobster

This man has seen me at my worst in every possible way, especially in the past year. Yet he is still here, my fan and friend, my confidante and champion. He makes me laugh, forgives me and believes in me. He always has a good answer for my stupid questions like “Does this make me look like a wrestler/pillowcase/hooker?” He loves me in a way I know I will never be loved by anyone else, ever.

Marlon and me in El Nido

This man is the reason my family lives this life, why it’s so much fun, why we have so much beer in the fridge, why Tala has beautiful eyes, why I am a wife and mother, and why I want to be a better one.

Family selfie

This man turns 33 today, and I can’t wait for him to get off that plane from London and come home to his girls who love him very, very much. Happy birthday, my Googly!

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Party prep for the weekend

Tomorrow is Tala’s first birthday, and all I can say is: I’m so glad I live in a culture where the approach to birthday parties is practical and laid-back.

It’s a good way for me to ease into the world of kiddie birthday parties. I have quite a few friends with babies Tala’s age, and recently my Facebook feed has been a parade of glittery fairy costumes, elaborate theme parties and fancy home-baked birthday cakes. It’s a bit intimidating, but I have to remind myself that motherhood is not a competition, and the most important person in this equation is literally incapable of judgment.

Mama might not have a fat bank account or know how to bake, but she has pretty handwriting and is great at finding things on the Internet. That should count for something, right?

Babies and bacon!

Our plans are simple: we’ve invited friends to a “Babies & Bacon” birthday brunch for Tala at a neighborhood cafe. The cafe is very typical Dutch, so the process of “educating” them on the elements of what would be considered an American-style brunch—with bacon and Bloody Marys—has been… interesting. I’ve had to yield my ambitious plans of fluffy pancake stacks to the reality of flat, crispy Dutch pancakes; however, I’ve been assured there will be Mimosas, so I guess you win some, you lose some.

I’m off to run a few last-minute birthday errands, but I’ll be back next week with some snaps from Tala’s first birthday party. Wish me luck, and think a happy thought for Tala on her first birthday!

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Tala's first year in hairdos

My baby turns one year old this week, and there’s a storm of emotions brewing in me. I’ll write about all that later, when it’s a little quieter inside.

For now? To mark her first birthday, as my mom did with me, I’m planning to take Tala for her first haircut. And that makes me just want to write silly things about her hair.

1 Baby Mohawk by Melody Rae

Photo by Melody Rae.

At our 30-week ultrasound, the echographist made a most unusual pronouncement: “She has hair!”

“No, really?” I asked. “How can you tell?”

“See that fuzzy line on her head?” I squinted at the screen; indeed, there it was. “That’s hair.”

From the moment it popped up onscreen in that 30th week, it was clear that Tala’s hair would be a major presence in her life. Strangers, mostly mothers of bald Dutch babies, would stop in the street and exclaim over it, carpet fluff and snot would become entangled in it, and her mama—that’s me!—would spend many hours wrestling with her in many attempts to create cuteness out of the chaos. I’ve joked that Tala’s hair needs its own Instagram account, because it often seems to have a life of its own.

My daughter’s long black hair makes her unique. Someday, I’m going to have to explain why other girls are golden-haired and she isn’t, and tell her that even if she’s outnumbered by blondes, dark hair is beautiful too.

For now? I’m just going to have fun with it. As this post shows, that’s exactly what I’ve done in the first year of her life.

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Eleven months!

This is about a week late, but I can’t let it just slip by. Tala turned eleven months old!

Tala 11 Months

Not today, obviously, because she turned 11 months old while we were in Paris.

Tala yawning at the Eiffel Tower 11 months

“The Eiffel Tower? That’s for babies!” *yawn*

I thought it was super cool to celebrate that milestone there. She was… well, less than enthusiastic. I can’t wait to show her these pictures one day and watch the retroactive wave of coolness hit her.

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Ten months!

Tala is 10 months old! She looks as surprised as I feel. Is she really just two months shy of a year old?

Tala 10 Months

Lots of new things this month: some good (her first four teeth popping out on Christmas Day) and not-so-good (high-pitched shrieking, getting used to feeding her three solid meals a day).

The best thing about the last month is that she spent most of it back home, in the Philippines. She may not remember her first visit home, but I always will.

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