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3 years old.

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My baby girl is 3 years old.  How do I have a 3 year old?  I guess time flies when you’re having fun.  I remember when we brought our cupcake home from the hospital just like it was yesterday.  We were so enthralled by our firstborn, and three years later, we still are. She’s quirky, so fun to be around, has the funniest cartoon voice when she talks to her brothers, she’s smart, wise, and is a little chatterbox right until she closes those pretty eyes at night.  Dhara loves fun and anything that has to do with it.  She’s got tons of energy and can play all day and all night if you let her.  Bedtime is not her favorite time of the day because that means she has to waste the time she could be using for play — kinda like Olivia. She’s got quite the imagination, and loves playing with anyone who will dare to imagine with her.

Dhara loves her brothers.  She talks to them like they’re much younger than her. She calls them “buddy.”  She still tries to pick them up and roughhouse with them — something we’re repeatedly having to tell her not to do.  She loves going under the covers with them, and they love it too.  Rohan won’t put up with much of Dhara’s antics, but Kieran will give her a fight.

Now that Dhara is three, Greg and I are interested in starting school with her.  Of course we’ve been teach her things along the way, but I’d like to introduce something a little more than the live and learn approach we’ve been doing.  More on the topic of homeschooling later.

As of November of last year, Dhara has learned to use the potty.  Up until then, it was a disaster trying to teach her — she’s smart in so many things, but using the potty like a big girl was something she just didn’t want to do.  Thank God she knows now, and she goes all by herself — what a relief!  I always tell people that I wish kids had an automatic download of information at age 2 that enables them to know exactly how to use the potty. As you can see, I didn’t like the whole process of potty training.  I guess the only advice I can give is: put them in underwear (pull-ups are pretty much diapers), and take them to the bathroom every 30 – 45 minutes.  It takes time for them to “get it”, but consistent repetition is the best way for them to learn.  Otherwise you’ll do what I did for the longest time and be cleaning up a ton of messes because I didn’t stick to the 30 – 45 minute window.

[Thanks Ohio Becky for the adorable salvar Dhara is wearing in her 3 year shoot!]

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For Dhara’s 3rd birthday party, it was part of a combined Christmas party/Dhara party/and Josh’s graduation party.  We had a lovely gathering of family folk.  We cooked and baked up a storm — as it’s been in years past, Dhara’s strawberry birthday cake was homemade by Zumie.  It was so delish!  Dhara was super shy when everyone sang happy birthday to her, she couldn’t quite get her speech out in the end (like last year).

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This last photo wonderfully portrays my daughter.  She can be so naughty at times, but she’s hilarious and so full of spunk.  The above photo was taken as soon as she got caught sneaking a cupcake and eating it quietly in the corner before her party began.

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2.5 years old.

My sweetie pie honey bunch is 2.5 years old!  And as you can see from these photos, she’s rock’in toddlerhood!  My Dhara-dear is a precious, precious gift to Greg and I.  We love hearing all the interesting things she has to say.  And boy does she have a lot to say!  Since her brothers arrived, she’s learned to play on her own more since mama is busy with two babes.  It’s fascinating to watch her use her imagination.

Speaking of brothers, I love how she loves on them — I happened to walk in on her one day as she says to one of her sweet brothers in a crackly old lady voice, “Hey there little fella!”  She loves kissing them and just being near them.  She showers them with, “Oh, you are so cute!”  She always wants to hold them — not a very safe idea because she puts her arms around their midsection and lifts without a care.  Not a good thing!

Dhara definitely seems older than her 2.5 years.  She loves being outside, she loves being in her pajamas, and she loves chocolate.  And like always, she loves to be read to.  Some of our favorite books these days are the Little House on the Prairie children’s books like, “Dance at Grandpa’s” — which I didn’t know existed until Greg and Dhara brought it home from the library!  Love it!  Can’t wait to start the series with my girl…

Her hair is getting long.  I’ve never cut it, but I’m debating whether I should or not because I’ve heard cutting keeps hair healthy?  Although I know I’ll feel really bad cutting it because I love seeing her wear her twisted chignons proudly and beautifully.  By the way, interesting to know that her daddy is, by far, the best at putting her hair up — even better than my mom or I.  [Thanks to Greg’s mom who bought Dhara the cute tutu dress.  I’m not a big tutu fan, but this one is adorable!]

december recap, part III: dhara’s 2nd birthday.

Dhara’s second birthday party was a little shindig I planned for her with family on Christmas Eve.  She was so happy to be dolled up in a little green salvar adorned with sequins and jewels from her “Beane Aunty”, and delicate gold sandals on her small feet.  She was as cute as can be.  In addition to some catered food, my sister and I cooked up some tasties — we had singapore noodles, beef stir fry, a baked ham, homemade mac + cheese, samosas, broccoli salad, spinach balls, homemade spinach artichoke dip in a bread bowl, and homemade holiday bread.  For her birthday cake, we made Paula Dean’s Grandmother Paul’s Red Velvet Cake with coconut cream cheese frosting — I looove cakes from bakeries, but I’m really starting to love homemade birthday cakes because you can add your own special homely touches, like this (scroll up).

For Dhara’s birthday/Christmas gift, both of her grandmothers gifted her with a fantastic Montessori styled kitchen set from Palumba — if you haven’t checked out their site, it’s awesome!  It really would be my dream kitchen if I were Dhara’s age. It’s made of all natural, beautiful materials — no plastics!  And I love how it fosters an appreciation for the simple and beautiful, rather than the disposable and common.

We surprised her by having it ready to go — fully equipped with metal dinnerware from my mom’s trip to India (small cups, bowls, spoons), wooden food from all food groups (steak, banana, milk, bread, etc.), and a wooden cake from Grandma Smith. Dhara walked into the kitchen in the morning as we all relaxed on the couch waiting in anticipation to see her reaction to the kitchen set, but she walked right by it not seeing it at all!  We all laughed, and tried to get her attention on it, but it took her 5 whole minutes before she noticed the little wooden kitchen tucked under the bar. Her reaction was priceless — pure joy.

she walked into the kitchen with her morning face and ran straight for my lap

she finally sees the itty bitty kitchen

we all sing happy birthday to her, and she sings too as she holds a wooden cake

so happy!

helping zumie make her homemade red velvet birthday cake

the spread

exuberantly singing happy birthday with everyone!

not sure why she’s holding a pin cushion?

all three kids are ready to blow! hilarious.

(right) isaiah is highly pleased with his blow

after singing happy birthday, inspired by her daddy, dhara says to all her visitors, “thank you all for coming! love you!” and then indulges in a sweet piece of red velvet

isabel, dani, and dhara

dhara, seylah, and isaiah

opening gifts at midnight

december recap, part II: a smith birthday.

Dhara celebrated her 2nd birthday twice this past year.  Her first party was with the whole Smith clan at the Smith Christmas party — cousins, uncles, aunts, the whole shebang!  When the cake came out, Dhara began singing Happy Birthday to herself and everyone else joined in — it was hilarious.

dhara happily singing happy birthday to herself!

she loooves cake, just like her mama!

mom always does a lovely job wrapping gifts

a special moment when mom presents dhara with a special baby bracelet from her father — more on the story here

chatting with great uncle jack

these photos of dhara + her grandmother remind me of a scene out of the little town of heidelberg, germany. not to mention nutcrackers + matryoshka dolls too.

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2 years old.

I’m so glad I get to be her mom.  She’s fun, vibrant, soft, lovely, smiley, huggable, and oh so sweet — just to name a few.  My little girl turned two years old on Christmas Day.  These past two years have really flown by.  When Greg and I reflect on it, we just smile, because she really truly just brings a smile to our faces whenever we think of her.

The last time I officially photographed her, she was 18 months old.  Wow, has she changed in a short 6 months span.  It was so much easier to take her picture this time around.  She sat silently as I adjusted my camera.  She waited patiently and did what I asked her to do.  My, my, my — she really is becoming this mature little person whom I love and cherish.

And she talks SOOO much now.  She asks questions, and gives smart little answers.  Last week I asked her to hand me a doll that she was holding onto — it was one of those irritating kinda toys that you just want to hide.  And Dhara responded with a, “Can I please leave it in my hand?”  Another time, Greg got hurt, and she walked up to him, put her hand on his leg, closed her eyes, and prayed, “Bless Daddy who got the bonkey.”  [A “bonkey” being an ouchy].  Another time, we were at family prayer, and we asked her what song she would like to sing, and she responded with, “Old MacDonald.”

For Christmas this year, Greg’s mom presented Dhara with an ID bracelet that was given to baby Greg by his grandfather who was living in Saudi Arabia at the time.  Here is Dhara admiring the petite gold bracelet handed down to her from her great-grandfather Jack.

baby/toddler indie headscarves can be purchased via the Susie Mey shop.

summer album.

We spent last weekend at the beach.  It was a much needed time after a myriad of things going on the past few weeks.  We had a lovely dinner with some old family friends at an awesome seafood restaurant (and celebrated their son’s 4th birthday), went to the beach and jumped in the water, took some much needed naps, went to the local quilt shop, and partook in some of Greg’s dad’s awesome homemade food (chicken, steak, and shrimp in one night! good stuff.).  Here’s a series of photos — all pretty much of Dhara.  Sorry for the dark restaurant photos — it wasn’t very bright in there!

jason, leni, noah and baby #2

serendipity quilt shop

hitting the waves baby style

tromping through the water

she seriously loves walking the dog

“ummma” (“kiss”) 

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and just for old time’s sake, here’s dhara last year this time

eastern market.

My girlfriends and I decided to take my best friend to Capitol Hill for some good eats and a stroll around Eastern Market.  We ate at Good Stuff Eatery, which by the way, has the most amazing burgers ever.  It’s hands down better than Five Guys — which would probably be my second favorite burger.  I ordered the handcrafted Collette Burger with mushrooms and handcut french fries topped with rosemary and thyme — AMAZING.

The restaurant is a family operated business — one of the family members being Chef Spike from a past season of Top Chef.  Chef Spike is the head Chef, and he’s there everyday, so we got to see him in action as he cooked burgers.  We even got to see a tiff between him and his mom — Chef Spike ran off, he was definitely heated.  Not sure what it was about, but don’t let that stop you from trying Good Stuff.  You won’t regret it.

At Eastern Market, I stopped by my favorite stall, The Red Persimmon, and picked up a hand block printed nightie for my girl.  Lately I’ve been coming up with designs for baby/toddler nightgowns for the Susie Mey shop.  When I saw this one at Eastern Market, it just confirmed that there’s a niche of people looking for the old world style and comfort that a simple nightie brings.  These days women, and especially girls, don’t wear them much, but I will forever be a fan of vintage inspired cotton nightgowns.  They are feminine and beautiful, and what girl wouldn’t want to feel like that?

hand block printed nightie from eastern market

18 months old.

It feels really odd to have a toddler running around our home.  It was just recently that she joined our family, and she’s already a year and a half.  After a year of monthly updates, I stopped doing them every month because updating after 12 months seemed too much.  So I decided to focus on the next big milestone, 18 months.

So much has happened since Dhara’s 12 month update.  She’s learned the word “no.”  She uses it frequently, but in the sweetest voice possible as she shakes her head and her eyebrows go into a frown.  It’s hard not to scoop her up and hold her tight when she says “no” in that voice.  In addition to “no”, she’s picked up many other words along the way, like: cute, stinky, credit, heavy, and cupcake.  She talks in mini sentences, like, “Dhara sit it”, or a question like, “he’s gone?”  She’s also learning her ABC’s and 123’s.  If you ask her to count something, this is usually what it sounds like, “2,8,2,8.”  We are working on this.  : )

She is super lovable.  She loves to hug and kiss and tickle people.  And don’t worry if you aren’t ticklish, she will laugh for you.  She’s definitely a people person.  My mom tells me I was the exact same way as a toddler.  Dhara loves talking on the phone to her Grandma and Grandpa (Greg’s parents), as well as her Papa and Grammy (my grandparents).  She has so much to say, most of which is unintelligible, but with real words stuck in here and there.  She loves little kids especially and usually finds someway to hug them.

Dhara, you are an amazing little girl and we love you to pieces.  Happy 18 months to my Dhara Dear!  More tomorrow on a quaint celebration we had to celebrate her 18 months.

fruits + veggies from our garden. vintage inspired dress from My Sweet Muffin.

appacha + ahmana.

my parents wedding, india, 1980.

It’s Dhara’s Appacha + Ahmana’s [her grandparents] wedding anniversary tomorrow, and she wants to wish them a very, very happy anniversary!  They’ve spent 31 beautiful years together thus far.  Dhara says she’s grateful for the love and cheer that envelopes their home everyday.  She couldn’t imagine living anywhere else!  She loves you both dearly, along with the rest of us!!!

dhara at 8 months

dhara at 16 months

my parents after their ceremony. in order of appearance: chinamama, my pretty grandmother, my mom, my dad back from the States stylin’ in a linen 3 piece suit, my grandfather, and little 14 year old joji uncle — even though all these people look pretty stoic, they are all very happy inside, I promise.