Friday, August 29, 2008


Remember Sunday is Grandparents' Day- yes, mostly a Hallmark holiday, but still matters.
I secured hokey, pastel, typical cards for all of the lil' dude's grandparents and great-grands.
These people are very important to her. They always will be. They deserve one day to feel the love.
So, mail those cards and make those calls.
Next year, the lil' dude will be nearing 2 (OMG, BTW) so we will start our tradition of making crafts for Grandparents' Day.
Hokey, pastel, typical crafts.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Dear lil' dude-
Last night as you clung naked to the side of the tub in anticipation of getting in, you got so excited you peed.
All over the clean bathroom rug.
All over the bath mat.
All over the floor.
And a little on Mama's leg.

I'm happy you get so excited over things you pee.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Own Bed

Know how on day 6 of vacation you start to think going home won't be so bad because you'll get to sleep in your own bed?

Yeah, it's like that for the lil' dude too.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vintage Lil' Dude V

This will be the final installment of Vintage Lil' Dude . . . Mama's girl will already be home waiting when I get done with work today. Miss that kid!

I know someone else who misses her too. The Beagle. He might not openly admit it, he might prefer that his dog dishes are not disturbed, his bed not played it, his ears not swiped at. But, he misses her even if secretly.

The Beagle's . . . affection started with the lil' dude when she was brand-new. I know the Dad and I were relieved. He'd been our baby, our little person with a tail for 2 years before we had a baby. I told the Dad I wanted the Beagle in the delivery room as my focal point. He is such a relaxed, chill dog I thought that would help me relax if I needed to. In the end, though, the Beagle spent the delivery weekend at his pseudo-mom's house. My focal point turned out to be Victor Newman as the Young and the Restless played on the TV in my room.

Here is the Beagle meeting the lil' dude for the first time. That he didn't eat her, we were grateful, ensuring instant BFF status.

When we were home on maternity leave, the lil' dude did the majority of her day sleeping in her chair with the Beagle never far away.

First thing every morning, he had to find who was holding the baby. He would get her in tiny face to sniff her, to make sure she smelled the same as the day before. Only then could he start his day.

The Beagle had always loved his toys. With the introduction of the small person and all her sweet, fuzzy, squeaky playthings, I worried the dog would simply think they were his and we'd be forever finding shredded Little People in our house. To this day, it's never been an issue. He did however, find her chair too tempting to resist one evening the Dad and I were de-Christmasing the house downstairs. Too bad he couldn't figure out the Vibrate/Sound function.

As the lil' dude slowly morphed from slumping, snoozing lump into a little mover and shaker, the Beagle became even more intrigued with her. He loved the jungle gym mat time each day.

Oh, how tummy time would wipe these two right out. I think the presence of the Beagle helped the lil' dude fight through it because wow, did she hate tummy time. When she would scream, the dog would wince, his ears pulled back tight. But he never left her side.

As the days of leave dwindled down, I began to worry more about the Beagle's transition back to routine than my own. Or, the lil' dudes. He had 12 weeks during the dreary winter spent inside the cozy house, next to his pink BFF. How could I get him to understand his return to the garage kennel would break my heart more than his would?

Here's the two after a long day in daycare and the kennel. He would inchinchinch closer and closer to her on her blankets and just take her in. I miss you, he would say with his whiskers.

Lately, there haven't been two many pictures of them together, at least not in the same frame. They both move too fast now. I view their relationship like that of a big brother and little sister. It's all on his terms, and when the little girl finally gets big enough to reciprocate her feelings and attachment, he acts too cool. Like he can't be bothered by a girl. She chases him as fast as she can, and he retreats to the small areas of the house she hasn't mastered yet. But I know deep down he adores her, and always will. I know the day where I find the two of them stretched out in the sun, snoozing all tangled up together is not far away.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vintage Lil' Dude IV

It was an outfit that sealed the lil' dude's fate.

The Dad is an avid CRAZY fan of Syracuse Basketball. Go Orange! is heard grunted around our house all the time. The grunting gets particularly bad during March Madness. Very loud grunting.

Anyways, the Dad was perusing the Internet last fall looking for an Orange outfit for the babe in my belly. He must have checked eBay everyday of my entire pregnancy. He finally settled on the one, ordered direct from the college's famous mascot shop, and ordered it up. It was a tiny Nike onesie, bib, and booties all in the school's true orange and navy colors. Grunt, grunt! He ordered it in the size the baby would likely fit in during March Madness.

A few weeks go by, and I finally remember to ask the Dad about the outfit, for he had not shown it to me. "Is it back ordered?" I asked.
A weird look came over his face. "No, it came," he said super quiet.
"Can I see it?" I asked.
He hesitated. "I didn't want to show you . . . 'cuz it's not right."
I was confused. Did the outfit have three arm holes, or what? Why would he not be excited about his tiny treasure?

He disappeared to his secret hiding spot (where he hides all my Christmas and event gifts) and returned with it wrapped tightly in its shipping bag.
As I pulled open the top of the bag, I saw PINK everywhere in the bag! My heart melted a little! Pink!
The Dad said, "they sent me the wrong outfit. This one is for a GIRL! It's not orange and navy!"

"So what?" I asked. "Send it back. Exchange it. You have plenty of time."
The Dad looked at me solemnly. His voice was a far away. "No. This just jinxed it. We are now having a girl. It's a done deal. It's going to be a girl." He was dead serious! He told me he had called the mascot shop and they told him they simply made a shipping error. Told him to send it back. But, the Dad decided to wait to see if he would need a pink outfit, if the lil' dude was going to be born a girl.

He was right! And . . . Syracuse never even made the tournament this year.
SHE, the baby GIRL, still wore her Orange! outfit though.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Vintage Lil' Dude III

At my baby shower last October, a mama-friend gave me a fuzzy Carter's sleep sack. "C. lived in them when he was a baby," she said. She said how nice they were to zip and unzip so quick in the middle of a tired, drowsy nighttime change. I quickly set out to find 6 more so the lil' dude could wear one every night of the week. And although this sleep-sacked little beauty never woke up for those nighttime changes, she stayed all warm and contained in her crib!

This is the green one from my mama-friend. The lil' dude has always looked so good in green. Here she was right before being swaddled back up! Awww, the sweet little swaddle . . . the Dad and I would have contests to see whose baby burrito was better. He won most times.

In ducky yellow. I bought the same one for a prego-mama-friend before her AJ was born . . . in May. She probably doesn't wear it being it's summer and all, but it was fun to send anyways. Made me remember opening the green one. I bet this picture is from a Saturday morning. The lil' dude has been put back to sleep in the early AM right next to our bed. So we could get more sleep, that's right. If I could reach down and hold her fingers while her chair hummed to her, it would take minutes for her to fall asleep. The Beagle's bed is to her right. I bet he hated not having the #1 spot.

In bulldog blue- my mom found this before the lil' dude was born. She still wears blue pajamas. No one cares at our house! This picture was definitely a maternity-leave morning after the Dad left for work. We said from the get-go we would not let the lil' dude sleep in our bed, ever. For it would be too delicious and warm and snuggly a habit to break. Well, there were just a few times I snuck her in . . .

"I Love Hugs" white. Here we are after a breakfast bottle and probably 4 days of not washing my hair. I let most mornings go by without moving much from this position. I was simply taking her all in and remembering to remember.

In pink lambs. Her first and only pink sleep sack. This one arrived the same day Grandma did for that whole week! This picture is from Christmas morning, look at that perfect little smile. She is going to love Christmas just as much as Mama does, I can tell already!

In giraffe polka dots. Look at how big she is, she's even smiling on purpose! That is MY baby blanket I have wrapped around her head. No, she doesn't sleep with it, but I do. Yes, I am serious. No, I don't want to talk about it!

In #7 purple. I loathe the color purple, but this one I found on clearance for a few bucks. We're doing laundry right before I left for Vegas for work for 5 days. "You're leaving me with DAD? And the Beagle?"

Until two weeks ago, all seven of these sleep sacks were still tucked in the lil' dude's pj drawer. I told the Dad I just couldn't pack them away yet. He asked why those were so much more special than the rest of her mini-duds. I couldn't explain it and still can't. To me, they embody my winter baby girl and all our lazy memories. She wore her sleep sacks until mid-April, over four months. Putting her in her first pair of big-girl pajamas was a bittersweet night. For me anyways.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Vintage Lil' Dude II

When my mom came to stay shortly after the lil' dude's arrival, she got things done.
She watered my Christmas tree.
She made my husband food.
She washed all the NB-sized clothes and arranged drawers, changing tables, and closets.
She bought me Mochas.
She baked Amish Friendship Bread.
She scoured the bathtub.
She worked on the lil' dude's Hardanger (Norwegian embroidery) Christmas stocking.
She got the mail, bought the groceries, burped the baby, made the Mama nap.
We were simply out of things to do. It had been 2 days.

I bought the little velour hoodie and hat at the Gap, as one of the few pre-baby purchases I made. Brown is one of my favorite colors. The (fake) Uggs were another must-have-brown purchase. She started to cry when her feet got too hot in them, however.

Love my chubby reindeer! Auntie M. got this in California a few months before the lil' dude was born- who knew there were reindeer in Cali? This picture was on the lil' dude's birth announcement. It's an outfit I will never part with.

What do you get when you have a baby in December? Christmas outfits, and tons of mini skull caps. That's OK, the lil' dude slept with one on her tiny melon for her first 4+ months of life.

This is when I finally said, "she's a girl. Let's break out the pink." This was the first pink outfit she received, a gift in the hospital. This head-to-toe Gap outfit probably cost the lil dude's Godfather $89, but the look on his face when he held her for the first time . . . priceless. And he wanted a nephew. Ha!

This is the Christmas dress my mom spent 3 hours looking for after the "IT'S A GIRL" news. Although she had anticipated a little classic Christmas dress in plaid black, red, and green taffeta, she couldn't find one small enough. So this had to suffice. It's the picture my parents, the proud first-time grandparents they were, sent out in their Christmas cards.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Vintage Lil' Dude

This week the lil' dude is at her grandparents' . . . again . . . so what better way to pass the time than by reminiscing about the days when she was brand new?

When the Dad and I were in childbirth class for a weekend last September (a weekend where he slept with his eyes open and I ate 7 Nutty Bars from the vending machine) we had to fill out a questionnaire without our partner's help. The questions were about pregnancy, looming delivery, and first days at home with the baby bundle. We each answered the questions independently and shared them with each other when finished.
One of the questions was, "who will give your baby its first bath?"
No-brainer: my mom. Baby's Grandma!
The Dad was appalled at my answer. He asked me why I wouldn't be the first person to do it. I tried explaining to him that once I went through 31.5 hours of labor, 10 days past my due date that I wouldn't have the energy or know-how. I would probably be at happy hour or eating bleu cheese in a hot tub somewhere. Grandmas show up just in the nick of time to clean babies the first time, it's a rite of passage.
And true to my answer, my mom arrived on our doorstep the morning after we were discharged.
She asked what I needed, wanted. I said, "my dirty baby needs a bath."

Mom . . . ? Mom, MOM!!! Mom, what is she DOING!!!

So we gathered up the lil' dudes' bath things, steamed up the bathroom, and got down to the business of cleansing. I watched my mom, the expert. It was so hot in the bathroom, I was stripped down to my tank top. 3 days postpartum, that was traumatic too . . .

Stop it stop it STOP IT! I liked being dirty!

I asked my mom how often I would have to repeat this ritual. She looked at me. "Everyday. Babies smell like pee. Make sure you keep the bathroom hot and be careful of her belly button." Well, at least one of us would be clean everyday, I thought.

Ok, I calmed down. I never have to repeat that again, OK?

You have to remember I was sure I was having a boy, so the few things we had bought pre-baby were awfully boyish. Why she has her pants yanked up to her sternum is a good question. Her socks wouldn't stay up on her chicken legs either, so Grandma improvised giving her the late '80s look. I loved it.

During that bath we also took her tags off, deciding we would keep her. We carefully snipped off her wrist and ankle bracelets.
So, when I have another baby, I will still write "Grandma" on the bath question even though I know how to do it. I just think it's their job and entitlement.

Friday, August 15, 2008


I picked out the lil' dude's first baby doll, and wrapped it in hot pink snowflake paper for Christmas. She was 2.5 weeks old. This was something I knew I wanted to do, I felt a Mama should be the first person to buy her daughter a doll. Doll's head smells like baby powder, naturally.

Doll sits in the lil' dude's basket of friends on her floor. This week, four nights in a row, she went crawling into her room, digging through her friends, to find doll. Then, she would sit and chew on doll's head and face, her plastic body parts just too delicious to resist.

Once, she pulled herself to standing on the side of her toy box, which is situated beneath her window. She grabbed doll by the arm and tried to throw her onto the windowsill as her she went to her tippy toes and reached up . . . see doll? See the world outside?

The next night, she tried to bring the doll with her to take a bath. She was half-crawling, half-dragging doll under her belly on her way to the bathroom. Her zealous excitement for bathtime ultimately meant doll was left behind, lying in the hallway on her face.

I said to the Dad how sweet I think it is lil' dude has found an object she seems to care for more than the rest- this week, at least. He said, "dolls are dumb." Seems he may be 4 years old after all.

I just smiled, and watched the lil' dude play with doll from her doorway. I smiled thinking of the day doll has a name and the Dad has to carry her in public, have tea parties with her, and return to a hotel 80 miles away to retrieve her. That won't be dumb at all.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

41 Life Goals

Dear lil' dude,

I was reading the new copy of Glamour yesterday, a favorite magazine of mine. I am always careful to take my time when reading magazines so as not to skip a single page. Yesterday was no different. I came across an article in the Life & Happiness section, the category being open diary.

The article was titled, 5 Months to Say Goodbye. It was as sad as the title indicated, but one of the best pieces of writing I've ever read. In short, a 27-year-old named Danielle had just moved to San Francisco, (a lifelong dream) when she was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, the most aggressive malignant brain tumor there is. She was given a prognosis of "six months to I don't know" to live.

What is extraordinary about Danielle is during her senior year of college, five years before her diagnosis, she made a list of 41 life goals. The list was written on plain white paper, in blue ink, and she folded it up and carried it in her wallet every day. It was like a Bucket List, but before she knew it would end up being that. By the time she found out about her tumor, she'd already done more than half the things on her list. Go, Danielle!

Lil' dude, I wanted to write this for you to encourage you to write a goal list as soon as you are able, or want to. Do it before you think you need to, before it has to become a finality or legacy. Do it the minute you realize you have goals and dreams and aspirations as big as the sky. You can do whatever you want, sweetheart. Do it all.

And, in case you don't know what to write, or where to start, I'll share with you Danielle's list for inspiration. She had some pretty amazing goals I think everyone should aspire to conquer.

1. Quit my day job
2. Make friends
3. Drive across the USA once by the northern route, once by southern, and once visiting all Major League Baseball parks
4. Live outside the US, maybe Holland or Ireland
5. Write a book
6. Be a rock star
7. Be a DJ
8. Be an artist
9. Build something really cool
10. Have a cool Mustang
11. Go river rafting
12. Love a lot
13. ?
14. Play rugby, golf, and baseball
15. Climb a mountain
16. Get another degree
17. Have a really great dog
18. Be really cool
19. Start record label and promote female rock artists
20. Make a movie of my life
21. Fight sexism and other oppressions
22. Have a daughter with my name
23. Make amends
24. Help people
25. Sail away
26. Throw a party with people I love
27. Love myself
28. Be a better athlete
29. Be a camp counselor
30. Create
31. Drive a pickup truck
32. Carve a really great pumpkin
33. Fall in love
34. Live in different places
35. Swim a lot
36. Be able to open up more
37. Think better + clearer
38. Go on tour
39. Rock this world
40. Be alive
41. Be really alive

I am saving this list for you, lil' dude. I will tape it to your bedroom door.

Mama loves.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Water Cube

As I begin running the bath water at 7:40pm each night, she's predictable.
She barrels toward the bathroom crawling at full speed, her tiny body hurtling toward the bathtub like her tush is on fire.
It's like how the dog starts drooling and acting ridiculous when I open the pantry where his treats are.

It's all I can do to get her to stand still for long enough to remove her clothing.
It's as though she wants to be baptized by the waters while wearing her clothes.
This kid loves taking baths more than anything. She's my Natalie Coughlin.
When she inevitably starts to rub her tired eyes, I pull the plug. You should see the stink-eye I get for that each night.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Lil' dude, you will want to remember this post when you are, oh, 18ish.

I can already see the scene unfolding before us. You're there, with us, and we're looking at photos.

You come across the ones of you from that first summer you crawled. There are a bazillion photos from that summer. In the pictures, you might be just wearing a diaper, maybe some bloomers. That is not necessarily the embarrassing part.

Everyday during that summer, the Dad and I surrounded you with all your toys and animals and books and things so you would always be entertained. But, for the most part, those toys were left untouched. Your favorite playthings? The rubber door wedge from beneath the bathroom door. The dog's blue-bumpy chew toy. The hairy placemat the dog's water and food dishes sits on. Then, there was that Sunday afternoon where you shut your own bedroom door and found the little door stopper that makes that cool BOING sound when continuously batted at it. You once ate about 11 pages from Mama's Country Living magazine.

So, sweetheart, when you see those pictures of you as a baby, chewing on non-playthings, don't be mad at me, or at the Dad. Don't be embarrassed. It was those things you wanted most, those things you loved best. We tried.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Pretty. Pretty Ridiculous

The lil' dude has long hair. Long hair for an infant anyways, it's whisper-soft and so fine. In the mornings, the sides where she slept are all matted and fuzzy. I can tuck the wisps behind her ears. When we drive in the car with the windows cracked, you can just see her baby hairs a'flutterin' over the top of her car seat. Sometimes, at the end of the day just before bathtime, her hair sticks to her scalp and lays down obediently. It's really boring. A friend who was holding her at bedtime this week said, "Oh. I like her hair when it stands up all over and sways in the breeze," all disappointed-like.

Do I have options? I could bedazzle her little melon.

But, isn't that sorta like THIS?

My, what a cute little Chihuahua you have! Oh, excuse me. A Yorkie.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Letter from Mama, v8

Happy 8-month birthday, Miss Lil' Dude!

Last night at bedtime you were so sleepy, so you were extra-still and content on my lap in the rocking chair. I definitely seized the opportunity to breathe in your baby hairs, so clean from the bath. I just rubbed your back there in the dark, after the books had been put away and the lamp clicked off. It was you and me in the dark. You were completely still. It reminded me of when you were a tiny baby, all swaddled up in tiny fleece pajamas, your little chest rising with your sweet breaths. I think those days it was easier to be your Mama- and I say easier, not better. All Daddy or I had to do for you was take care of you. We kept your tummy full, your face clean, your bed warm. It was about bodily care.
Today, lil' dude, there is simply more to you, making my job bigger, more important. But you have this little way of letting me know I'm doing OK. You smile, you laugh, you crawl up on my leg to get up. You let me know. You little hand curls around my neck. You look all the way into my eyes. Are you getting enough to eat? The right foods? Are you content with your playthings? Are we sticking to your schedule enough? Your smiles and language tells us yes, and we relax. You're the most important thing we've ever done, you see, so we just want to be sure is all.

Last night, I brought you with me to the garden where we sat in the dirt and ate fresh sweet peas right out of the shell. I spread the tiny green pieces in my palm, outstretched before you. One at a time, you ate peas. We got dirt under our fingernails, the sun was in our eyes. It was a sweet, simple thing and you were so happy. As we pulled carrots out by the bushy stems, I gave you one to chew on. You eyes got so huge, a whole carrot just for me! I hope you always find joy in the simple things in life, to really appreciate everything you have. I am sure you will.

Now that you are on the move, it seems you've found friends in your littles at daycare. Your daycare lady tells me how much you love to play with two other little girls, now that you can keep up with them. Your first friends! This makes me so happy for you, as you learn to share and respect others. You'll learn empathy, you'll learn how to comfort, how to cooperate, how to communicate. There is nothing more important in this world than the love of friends, nothing, You'll see someday, you'll ask me questions about my friends, those who I've loved and known even longer than Daddy. These people are truly important, they make me who I am. I know you are awfully young, but you have to start somewhere. I can't help but picture you and a group of your friends sleeping in a pile on your floor someday. It's just something I wish for you, sweetheart.

I wanted to mention one other thing here quickly. Your Mama loves jewelry, especially necklaces. No outfit is complete without some sort of jewelry in my opinion. And you, well, you love jewelry too. Some of my jewelry is very special to me. I have many pieces that belonged to my great-grandma, or your great-great-grandma. I have a few pieces I bought in the Dominican Republic when I was 19. I have two island necklaces from Maui, where Daddy and I honeymooned. There are a few necklaces I found in obscure antique shops as Daddy and I shopped on our 1-year wedding anniversary. Most of my pieces tell a story- stories I will all tell you, I promise. In the mornings, when I lift you out of your crib, your hands instinctively go to my neck, looking for today's necklace. Because many of them are so precious, I've taken to putting them on in the car, or at work. I'm afraid you'll break them in your excited inspections. But someday soon, you'll be big enough to know to be gentle, and I will tell you all the stories, OK? Just be patient.

Mama loves.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ma'am, You'll Have to Come With Me

This story is a few weeks old, but needs to be shared.

On a Friday afternoon, the Dad and I were setting up camp for the weekend in the dirt. He was rummaging in his cargo pockets for something, when he pulled out one of the lil' dude's Robeez shoes.

"Why are those in your pocket?" I asked.
"I put them in there in case she needed them this morning," he said.
"Needed them . . . as in, to wear?"
"Yeah. We went to Menard's to get water softener salt, I thought someone there might say something about the lil' dude not having any shoes on in the shopping cart. You know, No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service," the Dad finished.

And he was dead serious. I love the things that man thinks of, I really do.

Juicy post-script: she had her pajama's on while at Menard's too. He didn't think of getting her dressed, but he did think of grabbing her shoes.