oh darling, don’t you ever grow up, just stay this little. oh darling, don’t you every grow up, it could stay this simple. i won’t let nobody hurt you, won’t let no one break your heart, and no one will desert you. just try to never grow up.

George and Hazel.  Hazel and George.  These are the two precious faces that I woke up to every morning last week, and these are the faces that I wished to be woken up my this morning- however, no such luck.  I’m back in Chicago, waking up in my little 1-bedroom apartment, with thoughts of Hazel & George dancing through my head.  I never thought I’d say this, but I just want to go back to Cincinnati.  (Sorry Pittsburgh.  At least it’s not Cleveland.  See, I know where I come from- sorta.)

Before I express my unconditional love for these two darlings and their parents, I have to begin by declaring that, before last week, I really didn’t think I’d ever have kids of my own (nor adopt).  For most of my life, I’ve never given marriage nor kids a second thought, even those I love love love kids and am relatively good with them.  Okay, I’m pretty great with them.  Anyways, for some reason, I just not thought that it was for me.  There’s really no explanation why this thought first entered my mind nor why it’s remained there so long.  But being bombarded by love and adorableness in the form of a 2-year old (Hazel) and an 8-month old (George), I, Kristen Medica, admit that I’m not sure if I can imagine not having kids now…one day.  Yes, I said it and only time will tell (que sera, sera) but a text from my friend, Matt (MT), confirmed my notion again:  It would be a shame if u never had kids. You will make an incredible mother.  Mr. Thompson, I actually agree with you on this one.  Again, que sera, sera, but after being with Hazel and George for a week I think it’s fair to say that I’ve had a change of heart.  They’ve changed my heart.

When I first met Hazel 1 1/2 years ago, it was truly love at first sight.  She was the first baby I’d really been around since my cousin, Ryan, about 11-12 years ago.  So yes, I was a  little out of my comfort zone.  But looking at little Hazel and having her look at me with her big brown eyes, I knew I was in trouble.  From that moment on, this little girl could do no wrong in my eyes.  Her smile lit up more than the entire room.  It lit up my entire heart.

(Hazel, our little photographer, took this picture of her baby brother.)  And now there’s Georgie too.  When I first met him last April he was only a few weeks old and in September he wasn’t too active yet.  But now he’s crawling and his cuteness radiates through his irresistible smile.  Watch out, future OU ladies!  This boy will be a heartbreaker.  He’s already captured my heart.  George, you little cougar bait. 

Enough of this, let’s get to the good parts.  I had so much fun with these two and their mom, Rebecca, last week.  After our Trick-o-Treat adventures, we settled into their traditional weekday schedule.  Unfortunately the kids stayed at their sister’s during the work hours, only providing me with Hazel & George time for a little bit before they left in the morning and a couple of hours when they got back.  It’s wasn’t enough!  I found myself like a puppy waiting for my “owners” to come home and play with me.   And play they most certainly did. 

Every moment with Hazel and George, I found myself perfectly content and lost in the enjoyment of their company.  There was nowhere else I wanted to be but there with them.  How often do we find ourselves in moments like that?  In our fast-paced world of endless possibilities we always think about what else we could be doing.  We check our cell phones and Facebook just in case so we don’t miss anything.  I do it too.  But last week, when I was with these kids, I didn’t even know where my cell phone was.  Nor did I careless who was ‘in a relationship’ with whom via stalker net Facebook.  Instead, I spent my evenings smiling and laughing as I took part in games of hide-and-go-seek; dinnertime picnics; finger painting; swim lessons; watching Elmo on ‘the little screen’ (my former computer); playing naptime-and-cockadoodledoodle (long story); and my favorite, cuddling on the couch watching Beaver Beaver (aka Leave it to Beaver). 

As the week passed, day-by-day, I found myself getting upset about leaving.  When Friday morning finally arrived, it was truly bittersweet.  But the show must go on.  Taking the day off from work left me with a full day of playtime with my BFF, Hazel.  In our PJs, we drove Rebecca (mommy) to work and then took George to the sitter.  We played games on the way back to Casa di Hazel before having a breakfast picnic with (another DVD watch party of ) Elmo.  We got ourselves ready, with me mistakenly giving Hazel my camera (note her photo of me here), and we loaded ourselves – and my bags :(- into the car.  With Hazel insisting on taking photos in the backseat, I programmed “Starbucks” into the GPS. 

Just our luck, the Starbucks happened to be in a Target.  If this Starbucks in a Target would have been in Athens…well, I think only one word would have explained it: PRICELESS.  Note: If you haven’t fallen in love with Hazel yet, you are going to in a few seconds.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you. 

Let me backtrack a bit and say that earlier in the week, I happened to inform Hazel that Adriana was sad.  In her 2-year old Why-stage, she appropriately asked, “Why?”  I let her now that Pat’s mommy is sick, which led her to ask, “Is Pat sad too?”  (Enter adorableness.)  “How can I make them happy?”  I love this little girl so much!  All week she kept asking what she could do to make Adriana & Pat happy.  First we painted and colored for them, but it was my brilliant idea in the Starbucks in Target where I decided to let Little Miss Happy-Maker pick out gifts to make Adriana and Pat happy. 

With our Starbucks coffee and OJ in hand, we headed to the $1 bin where Hazel picked up colorful spoons and clips, asking me, “Will this make them happy?” after each.  She then decided that gummy bears will definitely make them happy and clutched them proudly in her tiny hands.  I informed her that Adriana loves Hello Kitty (like Hazel) and so we headed to find some HK-happiness.  Our search eventually led us to the toy section where Hazel chose squishy balls- orange for Pat, pink for Adriana- and then allowed her to pick out cards for each of them- one with two cats on the front for Pat, a purple “this is such a pretty one” for Adriana.  Again, I love this little lady.  After paying for our happiness treats, we giggled our way to the car, past two men putting up Christmas decorations, and got back in the car.  Unknowingly, I let Hazel use markers to colored Pat’s and Adriana’s cards on our way to the Children’s Museum.

After a little detour and a nap (for Hazel), we found our way to the museum.  “Are you reeeaaddyy?”, I asked Hazel.  “YES!”, she exclaimed.  “Are you reeeaaddyy?”, she asked me.  And away we went.  We played for a few hours, took photos in the photo booth, and then grabbed lunch before heading to pick up Rebecca at work.  Before leaving the museum, a woman came up and complimented me on Hazel’s proper behavior.  In thanking her and pointing out that she was my friend’s daughter, I found myself with such pride- as though she was my daughter.  I would be honored to have a daughter as precious as her.  Her kindness is innate and truly a result of the love & care that her family shows her.

After picking up Rebecca and Georgie, we opted to spent the last few hours together at Graeter’s and then the pet store.  Best idea ever.  These precious moments made me realize just how special these children are and how blessed I am to have them in my life. 

It was so difficult to say goodbye to them when the time came.  Especially little Hazel.  After spending the entire day with her, I didn’t want to leave her now.  I wanted to go on Starbucks and Target runs with her all the time.  I wanted to let her pick out happy gifts when all of my friends needed them.  I wanted to sit with her in my lap every night and watch Beaver Beaver before bedtime.  I wanted to be there to protect her from all the sadness and anger in the world, and to make sure she was always happy. 

I just got off the phone with my brother and he asked me point-blank: “So (after last week) are you going to give your parents grandkids or not?”  I think he was surprised by my “Yes” response, yet very relieved since he doesn’t plan on being the one in our family to do so.  I think it’s fair to say that if  that does happen and I become a mother one day, my parents, my brother, (my husband/boyfriend/whatever), and me will have to appropriately thank the entire Littleton Family: Nate, Rebecca, Hazel, and George.  I love you all! 

After telling my brother all about my week at Casa di Hazel & George, I found myself rambling as I tried to explain how it made me feel.  While some words relayed my point, I again found it difficult to convey the impact that last week had on me.  Do you ever feel that way?  Like something is so special, so meaningful that you will truly be the only one who understands?  Anyways, I did find a few words to express how I feel about little Miss Hazel and my brother was the lucky one who got to hear them:

“I just want her to be happy.  Really happy.  Always happy.  Her life doesn’t have to be perfect, but I want her journey to be pain-free.  I don’t want her to ever question where she belongs or if she’s loved.  I don’t want her to deal with bitchy girls or have her heart broken.  I want more for her than I want for myself.  I want her to always be confident about who she is and go after everything that she wants.”

  

Song of the Moment: Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift

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