Monday, June 30, 2008

E is for Envy

Today on my lunch break I ran to one of my favorite stores on the planet- Barnes & Noble.
I had to pick up a birthday gift . . . I knew what I wanted and was to the counter in less than a minute.

In front of me was a mom with a big stack of books in her arms, with three kids whose names all started with H.
Hannah, Hunter, and Hayden (girl). The employee was taking for-ev-er to help check people out. Hello, backup? The kids were whining about whose book cost more, how long it was taking, when could they eat, can I puh-LEASE get this bookmark? and so on. "As soon as we're done here we're going to buy Hayden new Crocs, OK guys? We've got a lot to do today. Hunter, go find your sister! Say excuse me. HUNTER! Stay here. Stand still."

Behind me, two very calm little dark-haired boys stood patiently with their Dad, dressed in Texas Longhorn gear. I saw a "summer reading checklist" in his hands. He bent down to be at the boys' level. "Thank you guys for being such good boys. After this, we're going home to have lunch, then we'll head to the splash pad, OK?"

Both scenes made me insanely jealous. Today was a Monday those sets of kids got to stay home with their parents and do fun things like buy Crocs and cross books of the summer reading list and go to the water park. I just told the Dad a few days ago I wish I was a teacher, so I could have my summers off to spend with the lil' dude.

When my brother and I were young, my mom stayed home with us. I remember colossal trips to the library (once a bookworm, always a bookworm), making homemade popsicles with Kool-Aid and Jello, and watching reruns in the cool basement. I loved basketball summer camp, weekends spent camping, afternoons at the lake. We used to pick strawberries at the local berry farm and ride bike to the camp canteen down the road. We did something everyday, even if it was finding tree frogs or using sidewalk chalk (wow, my dad hated sidewalk chalk) or hanging the clothes out to dry. We harbored turtles in our plastic swimming pool, hit rocks with old tennis rackets, and begged for TV dinners. 12 weeks of summer . . .

The lil' dude is turning into the most fun creature ever. It's loads of fun to introduce her to new things. Yesterday she swam in a pool for the first time! She went under three times! She shared Mama's purple Freezie! The weekends just go too quickly. I want to stay home this summer with my baby. I want to experience a break from the professional word and endless drama and change and expectation. I want everything to be simpler. Reading on the deck in the shade, slow walks with the dog to the park. Eating snow peas right out of the pod in the garden. I want more; I want less.

A mama-friend of mine recently traded in her 10-hour days and endless "after hours" work to switch gears to working half that time in a different position. Her reason? Her family. Her little boy is 2. He asks when Mommy come home? She said she'd like to give her H a break from grocery shopping and laundry and food preparing. I am so proud of her for making such a difficult decision and envious of her choice. Now, her little boy can say, "Mommy go to the park!"

It's already the 4th of July week. Summer isn't gonna last forever. But my envy is.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Desperately Seeking Spawn (Sitter)

Last night was my debut back onto the sand volleyball team at the local bar. I've played for 5 or 6 summers now, and would miss it terribly if I couldn't play. I even played last year, sans beer, up until the 7month mark. I'm not sure which was more difficult, the glasses of 7-Up or giant protruding belly to contend with each Thursday night.

Last night someone said, "hey, have you had your baby?"
W. T. F.

Anyhow, the Dad had dude plans last night, so I asked an "auntie" to come over to hang with the lil' dude while I played. I talked to her late in the day yesterday, and when she called, I thought she was a transvestite truck driver calling in between hits of rancid weed and gulps of ammonia. "What's wrong with your voice?" Auntie, "I am sick. I have actually coughed up blood . . . "

So, I asked the sweet neighbors next door last minute if they would watch the babe for an hour while I went to the bar wearing my beer t-shirt. (And, yes, my team is sponsored by Bud Light. Love it.) They more than happily obliged and she was sitting contently outside in the grass watching their teenaged girls swim in the pool when I got back. Neighbor mom said, "The lil' dude is the SA-WEEE-TEST baby we've ever met. We simply adore her." They went on to say how much the lil' dude loved E., their youngest daughter and how much she would love to babysit her.

And this is an option the Dad and I have always considered and hoped to utilize. We want our time alone when we need it and have nothing against teenaged babysitters. Except, I once was one.

I know they rummage through your things.
I know they watch too much MTV.
I know they will eat all the good food and hide the wrappers in their jean pockets.
I know they will not put your kids to bed how or when you want them to.
I know they will charge you a lot. A lot more than YOU got paid in the day.
I know your baby will come to really, really love them, maybe more than they do you, even.

Those are the things we'll have to overcome I guess. I simply cannot ask an "auntie" to watch the lil' dude every time we need someone because she'll likely be one of the people I'll want to spend my free time with. We're having a giant party at the house next week in honor of the Dad's 30th and America's birthdays. I have already lined up an "auntie", prego-friend to take the lil' dude home with her at both their bedtimes of 8pm in exchange for her leaving the drunk H behind. I promise, babe, you're getting the better deal . . .

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Names in a Hat

I have a few close friends who are about to be mama's thinking of names. Naturally, it has me thinking of names and offering these ladies my little nuggets of name goodness. It's so much fun. Like this week, I was telling prego-friend of a birth announcement I read of twins, a boy and a girl, and the announcement named their big sister. The three names are all names prego-friend and her H like and have tossed around, and they aren't super common names. Small world!

In high school, madly and blindly in love with The One (errr, The One Who Cheated and Broke My Heart) I decided my baby names would be Madison and Noah. Very vanilla, yes. I have journals I kept from those days, with blonde-haired kids' pictures cut out of Estee Lauder ads proclaiming, "my daughter Madison," and "my son Noah." I still am really fond of the name Noah.

A boy name the Dad liked pre-mama? Memphis, for a boy. Think Gone in 60 Seconds, with Angelina and Nic Cage. My mom about dropped dead when he casually mentioned that to her and clutched my arm, "tell me you won't name your child That?"

The Dad and I settled on our baby names, one for each gender, about an hour after we started dating. Well, maybe that was more me. Whatever, they were done deals before we got married. Interestingly enough, the name we chose for the lil' dude was a girl name I had liked since high school. A woman my mom worked with had a granddaughter by the name . . . I had never heard it before and thought it was so pretty and unique. It's an old-lady name, I guess. And this is where the interesting part comes in, I would soon enough learn the Dad's mom's maiden name was the same, just spelled differently. It was like that name was meant to be. We went with the MIL's spelling, plus a vowel. To say she was shocked and honored which catapulted me into eternal daughter-in-law awesomeness is an understatement. After the lil' dude was born and named, the rest of the Dad's extended family was all like, "Why didn't we think of that?"

The boy name we still have locked in the vault. It is a family name from my side, and it's still a secret. I hope to see my dad's face if we get to use it, since it's a name honoring him. I want to use that name badly, and it has me thinking, can a name be universal? Is this name destined to be used by next and probable last baby regardless of sex? I don't know, but some people do. I personally like the names Dru, Ryan, and Alix for girls.

The two mama-and-the-Dad chosen names aside, I feel like I can share the list of names I would use as my baby names. I don't own the names, will not use them (unless something goes terribly wrong and I give birth to a litter) and always think it's interesting to see what names people like, and why.

#2 boy name: Beckett
#2 girl name: Finley

I can see these names on a Christmas card together, I love them both so much. I don't know where Beckett popped into my head from, but I know a few years ago I was watching an NBA game with the Dad and a player from the Spurs named Michael Finley had an amazing game . . . and the announcers kept saying Finley over and over again. I loved it right then.

As I continue down my short list of girl names, I can see a trend here. I like names that end in-y or the -ee sound.
Hadley. (just heard this one!)
Maybe I could envision myself yelling for the kids at dinnertime from the porch. The -y names carry well and can be stretched out. Try it once. Finleyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy . . .
And, Wren. I think that is such a beautiful name for a sweet little girl.

Boy names. Always come easier to me. Why?
When I was about 20 weeks pregnant, I dreamt of having twin boys, Ned and Gus. I don't know where those names came from, but I loved both of those instantly too. If I had to pick one, I'd choose Ned.
Asa. (pronounced, Aye-SAW) I met a guy at a work function by this name and he was h-o-t hot. But still, instant cool name.
Haven. I knew an old guy who lived by my grandparents' farm with this name.

You're thinking, Cash? but not Memphis? It's just different, you see.
And, I secretly hope someone sees name on this list and chooses it for their little lima bean. I would savor the credit.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Will Give You Something to Cry About

The lil' dude threw a tantrum last night. Very unlikely for her, yes. Very emotional. Very dramatic. Very shit, is that what she is going to be like?

Last week, I spent the first three days abandoning all most everything except drinking and going to work without drying my hair. Baby on vaca=mama and daddy on vaca. The other four days I spent picking up the lil' dude and playing the days away with our peeps. Sunday night I went to bed exactly 13 minutes after the lil' dude did, at 8:13pm. Whew! Tired chicas from all our days of play- and cutting teeth and whatnot.

So, last night, it was time to rectify the mess that our home had morphed into. I had one of those days at work where you know you'd rather stay there all night long instead of going home to the unpleasantness that is Homeowning. What I wanted to do was watch Y&R and eat gummi bears on the floor and play blocks with the baby.

Instead, I needed to go laundry, shovel out my bedroom floor, weed the garden, clean the master bathroom, do baby laundry, water the house plants, read my new Wonder Time, People, and Martha Stewart Living. I needed to make rice, grill whitefish for dinner. I needed to make Jell-o for gym breakfasts. I had to hang 3 wet baskets of clothes on the line. To quote the lil' dude's fairy godmother, I needed a wife.

I put that Super Content So Sweet and Eager to Play on Her Own baby on the floor with her fave toys and blanket. I started off with my list . . . and she screamed. And screamed, and screamed. I was watching her do this, turning red with fury and spurting out hot, wet tears. Holy shit. Can the neighbors hear that?

I went over and picked her up, and went out to water the deck flowers. Hard to do with a wiggly baby and 5 gallon watering can. I put her back in the house, gave her the trusty pluggie, and walked away. I wasn't even 2 feet away when she violently flung herself on her back and resumed wailing, the silent-for-3-seconds-while-the-lungs-refill-with-gusto. I went downstairs anyways . . . she was dry, was full, was not being eaten alive by a small woodland creature . . .

Then, I heard it. It sounded like she fell off a piece of furniture. And again, and one more time . . . and a 4th time. What the? I ran back up, and there she was, all 19 pounds of flailing tornadic spasm. She was lifting her legs and banging them on the floor, and she had her arms going with that rhythm too. She was losing her shit! Tan-trum.

You've seen the pictures in National Geographic where the mothers have their babies tied in a sling-apparatus to their hip, and at the same time have a bag of rice hefted over one shoulder and a pot of water on their head? They aren't doing this because they want their children to get in some good bonding and affection, no. No, they are doing this because it is the only way they get anything done for fear of the tantrum. Me? I don't have a sling . . .

Monday, June 23, 2008

Back At'Er

She's back!

8 days, 5 different places, at least 9 big car rides, three different bedrooms in which to sleep, one amazing "auntie" to cheer on and 13.1 miles of running in the sunshine, 109 faces to look at and swat with wet palms, big-gulp 8oz. bottles, first two teeth, 4 loads of laundry, one bottle of Tylenol, two handles on the sippy cup mastered, one excited puppy later . . .

The lil' dude is home where she belongs.

The Dad and I were thrilled when we rolled into the driveway last night and it was just us. We took the baby around the house to show her the pretty flowers and bird's nest that newly arrived this last week. She found her Exersaucer, the toys, her TV. Her highchair and bibs and best of all, her bed. She exclaimed "wheeee wheeee" as she rolled around in her crib. 8 nights of sleeping in the hard mesh Pack 'n' Play is enough for a lifetime!

This morning she was up before anyone else, quietly playing with her singing puppy in her sunny room. She babbled all the way to daycare this morning, so excited to see her littles. Welcome back, they'll say, we missed you!

Oh, how we did. While the Dad and I enjoyed each other last week, we sure missed her. It's amazing how large the impact one small creature can make. We're going to savor the days too, because in exactly two weeks, she's off to her grandparents for a week. Oh, Miss Popularity! Currently taking reservations for summer 2009 . . .

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Letters from Summer Camp, Day 2

Good morning! Lil' Dude is doing fine. She went to her first baseball game last night. She wasn't too thrilled, but had fun log rolling across the blanket and entertaining everyone. She slept good again last night and went down for a nap at 9am and is still sleeping now at noon. I think she may be getting a tooth. I gave her some Tylenol this a.m. because she seemed just a little fussy. I can feel a little lump on her gum, so it should be coming through soon. We are going to go down and visit with great-Grandma S. and great-Grandpa R. when she wakes up from her nap. She is such an easy keeper. A different house and different routine doesn't seem to upset her too much. She sure likes A.! They are having a blast together. Enjoy your time alone with The Dad - see you Thursday!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Letters from Summer Camp, Day 1

Good morning Mommy & Daddy - I miss you both but I am having a good time! I slept like an angel from 8:00 to 6:00 and didn't make a sound. Uncle P. is teaching me how to watch westerns and drink coffee (much better than beer). I have a busy day planned, so I better get dressed. Love you! Lil' Dude

Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Father's Day

How do I begin to thank someone for the most precious gift I've ever received?

How do I write what I feel inside a 4" card?

Happy Father's Day, the Dad. You are the most wonderful husband, daddy, friend, and partner I've ever, ever known. You gave me the lil' dude . . . you made me a mama. You created the us we are now.

Each summer, I took great care in picking out a Father's Day card for my dad, one that was pretty sentimental and girly; one that undoubtedly said "to dad from your daughter" or something along those lines. I always wanted him to know how great I think he is. Hallmark always made it easy, and this year was no different. But, the Dad, I just couldn't find the right things in a card for you. There is nothing existing that can say it to the degree it needs to be said.

I remember whispering to my friend, after about 3 months of dating you, "the Dad is going to be a great daddy." I knew it even then.

I remember in the basement of that church during our marriage class weekend, you reading the letter you wrote me, and mentioning our kids' names, how perfect and healthy they would be and how much we would love being parents.

I remember your hugs each month I got my period, and you saying, "we just gotta keep practicing!" and me knowing it would happen.

I remember pulling you from your desk chair, my pink cellphone still glued to my ear with my nurse practitioner on the other end saying, "You don't have any cysts, but you do have a baby!"

I remember both of us crying in the hallway, whispering furiously between each other and laughing. I remember showing you November 27th on a calendar.

I remember your protection, instantly. You protected me from inquiring friends, and scary internet stories, and rare meat.

I remember your pride as we sat together in the First Trimester class, our names and the lil' dude's due date on a placard before us.

I remember your eyes, glued to mine and wet with emotion as we heard her miniature heartbeat for the first time. When she was the size of a lime.

I remember your calm, easy presence at 20 weeks when I was a bundle of terrified nerves. Later, I remember you pacing and sweating in the tiny ultrasound room, and the strength your hand holding mine gave me.

I remember you running back to bed to feel her kicking for the first time- not believing what we saw and felt.

I remember how much you wanted to be a part in picking out her nursery and all her gear. I remember you calling your mom asking her if she would send us your old Pooh Bear for her room.

I remember you telling me the stretch marks were no big deal- not even noticeable.

I remember you rubbing my back every single day, without being asked.

I remember you doing all my chores and errands. Remember the pumpkin patch?

I remember you never being riled about me being riled. You know we will never sleep again. You know we won't have time for this. You know things will never be the same again.

I remember your sweet thoughts. "I wonder what our baby will look like?"

I remember your jokes during the long days of baby class, and your thunder-storm fingers on my aching back.

I remember you going to the gas station for a Mountain Dew and not telling me it was too late or too much caffeine.

I remember your chest at 40 weeks, wet with my panicked, overwhelmed tears, that It Was Never Going To Come Out.

I remember you promising me all I would need in that delivery room would be you.

I remember telling you not to look, I remember you grabbing a leg and counting and helping me do it.

I remember you calling the people on my list, in my order, once we had a her.

I remember you and your face when you became a daddy.

There are so many things I remember, all my favorite memories and sweet instances I love to play over and over again. We sure are good at this, aren't we? We really are the greatest team there is. Here's to the rest of our seasons together, making I Remembers.

Happy Father's Day, the Dad.

Mama loves.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

And My Favorite Arm, Too!

If I had to pick any memory of my childhood as being my most favorite and forever-cherished, I would choose the weeks spent in the summer at my grandparents'. Swimming in the lake, in the river, drinking Shasta, eating cold hotdogs wrapped in Kraft Singles, playing bingo, going to the 5 and Dime for a "treat" . . . loved it all!
I mean, it's obvious. Think of how spoiled you can get in afternoon in grandma's kitchen, with mom and dad there, then times that by 1,000 as you spend a week! at grandma's! without mom and dad!

This summer is no different for the lil' dude. Next week marks the start of her summer "vacations" as she goes to spend 5 days at my aunt's . . . my three cousins, age 11-14, are so excited, they might have started a countdown calendar when I asked them a few months ago. I know my little girl will be in heaven with all that attention and nonstop affection.

All in all, the lil' dude has 4 weeks planned this summer visiting Her Peeps. A week each month when daycare is closed, plus a bonus week when Mama and the Dad go to Boston for fun right after the 4th of July. That seems like an awful lot of away from home time for such a tiny person, but it's called for. If I could take those three weeks off with her to relive maternity leave, I would in a heartbeat. But something tells me to save my vacation days for things like unexpected cold/flu/virus season flareups, or cold, blustery snow days instead. Such is the life of a working mom.

So, Sunday night, after the Dad and I drive away from the lil' dude, we are free to do what we want for 5 days. Five long, long days. I know I will feel like I am missing a limb. I'll continue to wander around our house looking for my damn arm, only to remember it's 90 miles away at my auntie's. Damn, I miss that arm and wish I could go pick it up right now.

This will not be the first time I'll spend extended amounts of time away from her. When she was just 3 month old, I up and flew to Vegas for 5 days. (It was for work, and I cried the whole 1 hour+ trip to the airport and thought about her every second of every minute of every hour of every day) And, now I can safely say the "band-aid" method worked for me, I was forced to leave the lil' dude, and forced to realize that she was just fine without me. But . . . she was just a baby then. Now, she's a real-live person who will look bigger and learn cool new things in just a span of a few days! Ugh, I am not going to lie when I say it's going to be hard.

So, what do the Dad and I have planned for the 4 night sans-lil' dude? We are doing what any other parents of a 6-month old does when they have some free time: we are going to drink. Drink with our friends on sunny patios at Real Live Drinking Establishments during Real Live HH. We figure a few nights out like the "old" days will more than make up for all the times we begged our friends to "come to our house for the evening! but make it after 8pm, be quiet, go straight downstairs and here, why don't you help me fold some baby laundry while we wait for the pizza to get here?"

I also plan on A) starting and B) completing my pregnancy scrapbook. No, I am not PG again, just trying to make the lil' dude's. I am up-to-date on both her (template) scrapbook and baby book though . . .

I know it takes a village to raise a child. People besides the Dad and I should experience the wonder and fabulousness that is the lil' dude. We know it's going to be great, for all parties involved. Oh, my poor arm, how I will miss you so. Don't forget about me, or else the dog gets all your toys and stuffed animals he's been highly coveting since your arrival.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Rude. Me, not Them

The Dad and I had a rare lunch date today- we went to the mall for lunch, then did the big loop around window shopping. And, you can't leave the mall without spending $69.01 at Target on diapers, formula, and baby food exclusively. Jeez lil' dude! get a job already.

In the center of the mall is the food court- it's completely wide open with very high ceilings. Noise carries in there terribly, making everything echo. Even a quiet, private conversations ping-pings off the walls and ceiling. Imagine for a moment a wailing toddler, or screaming child. Loud.

In this area is the mall center- you know, the information desk where you can purchase gift cards, page security, find lost things. It's where you can rent those giant double-stroller things for toddlers/lazy big-kids. The ones at this mall are shaped like a tree, with the seats looking like knot holes in the trunk, and the leaves and branches part (crown? is this called the crown?) are where the handles to push are located. Ugh, they are huge contraptions, hurt when your heels get rammed with them, and are just obnoxious. The carts sit clustered together, tethered by chains until you pay someone at the mall center desk to rent one, and you get the key to remove it from its tethered family.

Well today, as the Dad and I were headed across the vast canvas known as the food court/mall center heading to our fave sports store, we saw a lady walking towards us, yet speaking to someone behind her. As we got closer, we realized the lady had left her two blond boys, both very young, in a tree-cart about 200 feet away from the desk where she needed to buy the magical key.

The boys were both screaming . . . although, they didn't seem to be crying. Just loud screaming.
In turn, the boys' mother was screaming at them to sit down, be quiet, wait there, don't move, get in the damn tree, etc. I kept looking between the boys and the mom, as she reached the desk, the third person in line. She kept looking over her shoulder, repeating her orders. Sit. Down. Tree.

Between the desk and the stroller area are two large pillars that presumably hold the roof up. There also was a fake tree or two (not to be confused with the tree-stroller-carts) and some garbage cans. A lot of elements in the mom's line of sight, anyways. My own heart raced a bit for her. The boys seemed to be about 18 months and 3, maybe 2 and 4. I am still bad at guesstimating ages of kids.

I said to the Dad, "I cannot believe she is leaving those kids sit there alone as she walks away from them," over and over again as we walked past them. The mall was pretty busy for a Tuesday afternoon, and we were in the busiest, most congested loudest part of all. All chaos and cluster and trees. "What the Hell is she thinking?"

The Dad said, "I hope they have a meltdown."
And I said, "I hope someone steals one of them to teach her a lesson."

What? Excuse me, I said what again? That I wished an innocent little blond boy was kidnapped from the mall during the first week of summer? What? Why. Why? I never meant it. How could I? I would never ever wish in a million years for anything of that nature to happen to anyone, friend or foe, deserved or not. I never meant it. So why did I say it?

Because I used snap judgement and used my hyper-critical skills to analyze the situation and deem the mother unfit and wrong and stupid and terrible for walking 200 feet from her children, her babies, to grab the key to their fun afternoon.

I've been thinking about this since it happened about 4 hours ago. How I've only been a mother myself just 6 months, yet I appear to think and act like I know everything and do only what is right and acceptable all the time. How dare I? I've already built my little mom castle with the moat and the dragon and the guards in the towers protecting me and my child from the other mom castles. Which doctors to choose, which health facilities to visit, bottles, pacifiers, baby monitors, carseats, burp rags, brand of sleepers . . . when to feed, how to soothe, how to choose a name . . . the list goes on and on. If you are a mom, you know what I mean. You can't help it, it arrives with your new little like the ID bracelets and knit hospital hat. You've already created preconceived notions before you leave the labor and delivery floor. It's a rite of passage. I remember one instance in particular, last fall, before the lil' dude showed up. The Dad and I were at Target.

"Sweet Jesus, formula is expensive," he said, looking at the shelf where I pointed to the $25.78 label.
"Yes, it is. Oh well. It's not like we can whip up a puree for her using some things from the pantry. She needs what she needs." I said.
"Is there any reason we couldn't use the generic formula? Look at the price difference," he said, pointing to the $11.89 label.
"ARE YOU #@^&*$! KIDDING ME? DID YOU JUST SAY GENERIC???" and I proceeded to have a pregnant meltdown over the suggestion right there in Target, this time a meltdown not fueled by sobriety or heartburn or other normal pregnancy maladies. *

See? I had already formed the opinion that I knew what was best, and eat shit if you think you can tell me otherwise. And I wasn't even a mother yet!

The point is, being a mother is tough job. Being a parent is. It's unlike anything anyone has done before. There is no manual. There is no wrong way or right way, like there is to do calculus or change the oil in your car. Everyone does it the ways in which they learn is best for them- and their families. And I ought to put out a call to uniting of parents everywhere, by supporting them and recognizing their efforts for the job is so difficult. Ban together, not tear apart. Employ the "if it works for you, then shoot" reckoning.

*And, Internet friends, eating shit tastes like, well, you know. The only formula the lil' dude has ever consumed is the Target generic brand for $11.89. It won't be the last "You were right and I don't know everything" I mutter in this lifetime, stamped guarantee!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Letter from Mama, v6

Happy half-birthday, Miss Lil' Dude!

6 months ago, you became you and we became us. Most marriages in Hollywood don't last 6 months. I know, I keep writing about how quickly time is passing us by and how astonished and saddened I am by it. I resolve to no longer wallow in the past while trying to hold on to the days. You, my sweet, bright, beautiful daughter are growing up. Never have I had so much fun.

You are definitely an individual, lil' dude. Your giant personality and wet grins go the distance even on dark days. You remind everyone who loves you how good life is and how thankful we are. You love your toys and your blankets; the things in your nursery that are yours. It is so easy to make you happy. Daddy and I spend most of our time together laughing at you, or recapping what new things you've come up with. We most especially love doing commentary from your point of view, oh, the things you (we) say!

I love how when you're in your stroller, and we're shopping or at the park, or even at the pediatrician's office, you look for anyone and everyone to smile at and interact with. Your happiness and excitement is contagious. I've never known a more happy baby. When Mama or Daddy takes out the camera to take pictures of anything, be it the dog, or flowers, or your new friends, you perk right up and flash us that $10,000 smile. You love being adored, you love being spoiled, you love being you.

This summer, baby girl, is all yours. Daddy and I have always loved summer and everything that goes with it. We have never been more excited for summertime, now that you are here. We can't wait to share our favorite things with you and make new traditions as a family. We knew parenthood would change us, make us do things differently. We knew that before you were even born. We just didn't know how great those changes would be, how much doing things differently would delight us so. There is simply nothing better than being your parents, lil' dude.

So yes. For 6 months we have been us. We've reveled in your belly-laughs and your determination to sit up, in your new found love of being on your tummy, and introducing you to great things like toes dipped in a rain barrel, licks of ice cream, sips of Sprite straight from the can. There is nothing I won't share with you, kid. It's all yours for the taking.

Mama loves.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

What a Girl Wants

What a Girl Needs . . .

Is an itty bitty pair of fierce Converse slip-ons . . . in black skulls, natch!
Oh, you can bet all the littles will be mad jealous when they catch a glimpse of the lil' dude log-rolling across the carpet (as we are currently working on the strut) in these fly sneaks!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Brought to You by the Letter: Spaghetti

Lil' dude, most women, when pregnant, crave food. They have tiny, hungry little jellybeans in their bellies, just like Mama when you were in her tummy. And you were one hungry little jellybean . . . just ask The Dad!

People like your grandmas and other older people say that pregnant women crave weird things, like ice cream and pickles; or pizza with peanut butter on top; or Fruit Loops with Kool-Aid instead of milk. That was not the case when it came to me, however. I craved normal food- just loads and loads of it.

You know how at the movies, there are written words on the popcorn containers? Those words say who helped this popcorn makes its way into the movie theatre and into your little hands. Well, when I was pregnant with you, I should have had written words on my belly saying "Hunt's Spaghetti Sauce" because that is who helped you make your way into this world!

All I ever wanted when I was busy growing you from a tiny jellybean into an 8-pound baby was spaghetti. Spaghetti! Not that crazy, right? Well, I wanted spaghetti for two meals a day almost each day of the week. Just noodles with butter and garlic and spaghetti sauce with Italian sausage and spices ladled over the noodles. With shredded Parmesan cheese on top! More spaghetti please! The Dad, he began to hate looking at spaghetti. He made me go visit your aunties when I wanted spaghetti again. He wanted some pork chops or spicy chicken stir-fry. Not spaghetti. Not again! But, Mama couldn't help it. We wanted spaghetti, didn't we, peanut? That is all we ever wanted.

Then, you showed up and my affinity for Hunt's returned to normal levels. The Dad and I now have spaghetti for dinner maybe once every three weeks or so. But, I still smile so big when I take the can opener to the top of the can of Hunt's sauce, thinking of all the people at the Hunt's office getting big paychecks thanks to you and me and all the cans of sauce we went through when we were busy working on making you big and fat and long and ready to come out and play. They never had it so good!

Last night, I made spaghetti and meatballs for The Dad and I for dinner. And you seemed like you really wanted to help me. So, I let you help me cook . . . we wore matching cooking gear, even.

Right now, sweetie, you are too little to have any spaghetti with Mama and Daddy at dinner. I suspect when you do have your very first bite, though, you will think, this tastes awfully familiar. Why do I feel like I have had this before?

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Highchair

The story goes like this, lil' dude.

The wooden Highchair was purchased second-hand by Mama's grandparents in 1949.

From their perspective, it has been a rite of passage to 5 kids, 14 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren (you are lucky #19!) and should see a 5th generation great-great-grandchild by this Christmas.
You loved sitting in The Highchair this weekend in great-grandma's kitchen. You kept throwing your teething rings and plastic toys on the floor. Grandma rushed over to you bearing "toys" she said you would not abandon in such a way; a set of metal measuring spoons, a gingham-checked canning ring from a jelly jar, and a Tupperware magnet straight off the fridge. And you know what? She was right! You wore the canning ring like a bracelet and noisily and happily banged the spoons and chewed on the plastic magnet. You were in heaven!

You bridged the 4-generational gap by being sweet and patient as we both listened to Grandma's wisdom.

"Don't tickle her feet! It'll make her stutter when she grows up."
"The first table food I fed my kids was soft-boiled eggs with butter. There was no such thing as baby food back then."

Grandma: "Do you give her water to drink?"
Mama: "Does she need water?"
Grandma: "Do trees need water?"

"Let her have a bite of your rhubarb torte, one little bite is not going to hurt her."
"I have never seen such dark, defined eyebrows on a baby. She is going to be a dark-haired beauty!"
"If she wants to sleep on tummy, let her, for goodness sakes. I can hardly blame her myself!"
"She's not afraid of strangers one bit! Must be that daycare making her so friendly."
"Is she still hungry? I can mash up some canned peaches for her?"

It was 78* at Grandma's yesterday, yet she kept a log in the wood stove and the windows in the house open.
"I didn't want it to be too hot or too cold for her," she explained.

We spent the afternoon watching Grandma's favorite MLB team on TV. They won! "They are a young team, learning to play together." We walked the long rows of her garden, squatting down to show you the teeny green sprouts. We dipped your toes in the rain barrel, we smelled all the flowers from Woodland Flox to the rare pink Baby's Breath to the Gerbera Daisies she kept alive over the winter. "They are hardy! like me," she said. We (well, Mama) ate homemade cinnamon rolls, raisin puff cookies, butter brickle cookies, dinner rolls, blueberry muffins, rhubarb torte, rhubarb pizza . . . coffee with "cow" in it (real whipping cream) . . . and then, for good measure, a hand-scooped ice cream cone. "Let her taste that ice cream now, the cold will feel good on her gums," Grandma said. Grandma was right!

As we reluctantly packed up to head home, I prepared to haul The Highchair back to the little garage where it is stored. "No," Grandma said as I lifted it, "you leave that here in the kitchen, where it always used to sit. She will be back again soon."