Friday, October 31, 2008


So, a baby bird walks into a Halloween party and says ...

Then & Now

Happy Halloween, Internetz!

Today, I am living vicariously through my daughter. I am so anxious for tonight, to take the lil' dude Trick or Treating. I feel like a kid again, when my parents would force my brother and I to sit through dinner fascists! before we could go Trick or Treating with Dad. How we would come home and dump our orange buckets onto the floor and sort everything into piles. All the pumpkin taffy and Bits O' Honey would go to the parents. Yuck! while we counted out every Snickers and Skittles to see who had more. I was the kinda dorky kid who liked the retired teachers who gave out stickers, notebooks, or pencils. Loved that stuff. We always went to Grandma Pancake's last. She made us special treat bags full of our favorite candy and a $5!

This was the lil' dude and I last year baking cookies. That is powdered sugar adorning my bump. I ate way more than I was able to share with my friends ... all that sugar and food coloring did a body good though, just look how she turned out a mere 365 days later!

Happy Halloween ... go make some memories with the ones you love best.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Moving On

The lil' dude's baby swing sits in our dining room- or at least it did. Last night I hauled it over to a prego-mama friend's house as she settles in on the last 8 weeks of her pregnancy. It was bittersweet; the swing was a big part of the lil' dude's life. She easily spent entire afternoons swinging and snoozing away.

I put the lil' dude in the swing a few nights ago for the sole purpose of taking one last picture of the queen on her throne. She burst into hysterics. Apparently, she's over the past and prefers walking around and around the house holding her doll by the neck.

This was the lil' dude on her first Tuesday ever. The Dad and I took her to her Ped's appointment to check her for jaundice and weight gain/sustainment. She was exhausted when I got her home, so my mom and I hurriedly assembled the swing and loaded her into it. Hours went by ... she never stirred.

But, those days are long gone. It won't be long and I'll take her to meet her new friend who will be all swaddled into this swing and the lil' dude will point at him or her, and smile. And I will remember. I will point at the lil' dude and smile, telling her how she used to sit in that swing and take long naps. Then I'll watch her hurry off, taking big steps.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pulling the Plug

I had a girls' night last night; the lil' dude was sweetly tucked in and snoozing when I got home.

The Dad recapped their evening together: watermelon, some baby food, rice, and sausage. A bathtub and some bubble-bath basketball games. A rocker, a book, and a sleepy baby. And to bed without her pluggie.

I didn't say anything to this. I didn't need to. We co-parent the lil' dude, we stand by each other's decisions and rules and reinforcements. But, her pluggie? She isn't even a year old.

"Right to sleep," he said. "Not even a fuss."

Somehow, I knew that would happen; she's simply too easygoing. She slept until 6:43am when she started to make noise. She was probably looking for her pluggie, but she didn't sound too stressed. I was stressed.

The pacifier embodies baby to me, it is the epitome of what baby means. I think it is so sweet and comforting, so natural and safe. And all of a sudden I am losing that. And I just might not be ready.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Morning

That is not my baby wearing her first piggytail. No, that is definitely not my baby looking very much a girl person this morning.
No, that is not my baby.
That is my little girl.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


As you very well know, it's common to be handed down some one's legacy, to be left a fortune, or to be the heir to something fabulous. When my Grandma Pancake passed away four years ago, the family went through her estate and handed everyone the things her and Grandpa had deeded out. I, the only granddaughter, received her string of pearls, wedding silverware, and collection of Buddhas. Grandma Pancake was not Buddhist, I don't think she practiced any sort of religion, ever. She once took a ceramic class and made a miniature Buddha, swathed in purple robes. That sat on her kitchen shelf my whole life. She also made a 2" Buddha in deep gold, bronzes, and greens. He sat by her hutch in the dining room. She never said why she made them, liked them, or displayed them. But I got them. There was also a small wooden one someone brought back for her from the Philippines, or Hawaii. I have them all in my office ... she meant for me to have them for a reason. They surround me now.

Five years ago, I had to walk past the Dad's office cubicle to get to my office. That is how I met him. He immediately caught my attention- I should say his cube immediately caught my attention. The Dad is a graphic designer, he works in animation and motion graphics. In his cube were 20 or so McDonald's Happy Meal toys ... all arranged perfectly, lovingly. Now he was 25 at the time. I know, weird, right. But after I found the courage to stop and say hello to him and ask him about his toys, I realized they were simply professional inspiration. As a designer, cartoons inspired him. The figures were mostly from Disney Pixar movies- Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. A few random Nemo, Lilo & Stitch. The Dad said he loved Pixar movies, owned them all, and wasn't ashamed. Oh, my heart!

One day, as I was packing my office to move across town into our new office space, I stole Mike, from Monsters, Inc. off the Dad's desk and held him ransom. I would send cryptic letters through our courier service demanding things like beer to return him unharmed. The Dad laughed at me, he knew exactly which of his buddies had gone missing, from exactly which spot on his perfectly organized desk he was snatched. It was around then the Dad told me someday, his toys would go to his children. I told him for as mint of condition as they were in, he could probably make some cash off eBay. No, he said, they'll be for my kids.

Last night, the Dad came home with an ice cream pail, brimming full of bright plastic faces. He gave his legacy to his daughter. I said to him, "Babe, your desk is going to be so empty now ... it'll be so different."

"Naaa," he said, "I have pictures of the lil' dude instead."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Written in the Stars

SAGITTARIUS - The Happy-Go-Lucky One (Nov 22 - Dec 21)
Good-natured optimist. Doesn't want to grow up (Peter Pan Syndrome).
Indulges self. Boastful. Likes luxuries and gambling. Social and
outgoing. Doesn't like responsibilities. Often fantasizes. Impatient.
Fun to be around. Having lots of friends. Flirtatious. Doesn't like
rules. Sometimes hypocritical. Dislikes being confined - tight spaces or
even tight clothes. Doesn't like being doubted. Beautiful inside and
out. 14 years of bad luck if you do not forward.

I received an email forward today, your typical straight-to-spam junker. But I decided to read this one, and found the lil' dude's Zodiac sign and its "truest description ever" according to the forward.

Good-natured optimist So true! Has been since day 1.
Doesn't want to grow up Again, true. Really likes playing with toys and make-believing.
Indulges self Sometimes she eats or drink so much and so fast she pukes.
Boastful She is the first to clap or shout hoorays when she walks, puts the ball in the hoop, or eat all her veggies.
Likes luxuries If a clean butt and warm feet count, yes.
and gambling teetering on her tiny bench on tiptoes, standing up in the tub, lunging for the Beagle's neck ... all gambles.
Social and outgoing I've always said she'd go home with the mailman if she could.
Doesn't like responsibilities The Dad tells her to clean her room or put things away and she looks at him like he has two damn heads.
Impatient You mean when she screams as I prepare her meals, or undress her?
Fun to be around Endless fun. Could play peek-a-boo with her for hours.
Having lots of friends MY friends want to know when they can see her. I am just her handler nowadays.
Dislikes being confined - tight spaces or even tight clothes When she wedges herself between the couch and the railing; under a dining room chair, between her crib and laundry basket and screams like her tush is on fire. Doesn't mind wearing tights though.
Beautiful inside and out There is absolutely no doubt there.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

All Because Two People Fell in Love

Today is a very important day, lil' dude.
Today is your great-grandparents' 60th wedding anniversary ... Mama's maternal grandpa and grandma.

60 years ago, Grandpa was two weeks shy of his 25th birthday, and Grandma was just 17. Within six months, they would have their first baby. There are no wedding photos; they could not afford a photographer. Grandpa had returned to small, small midwestern town after fighting for the Army during WW II where he served in both France and Germany. He spent two months in the hospital after he was wounded by shrapnel. He received a Purple Heart for his commitment to his country.
Grandma had just graduated from high school a few months prior to their wedding day. She had grown up fast, managing her family's household as her mother, your great-great grandma, worked away from home during the week as a baker and cake decorator. Grandpa and Grandma married quietly, settled on a 160 acre farm where they live to this day. Then, what you know as your family all began ...

Between 1949 and 1966, Grandpa and Grandma had five kids, including your "GiGi", Mama's own Mama. Grandpa worked over-the-road construction for 40 years and Grandma stayed home, working to raise a family. She is proud to say today all her kids graduated from high school, and two from college. 2007 was a 'bumper crop' as Grandma called it, for great-grandbabies. You, born last, were the 4th baby born becoming #54 in our family.

I have never met a more proud, practical woman, lil' dude, than your great-grandma. I have learned so much by standing at her elbow and sitting on her lap. I am proud to say Grandma has helped make me the person I am today, she has influenced my growth, fueled my passions, and encouraged my dreams. One of Grandma's traits I admire most is her ability to put things in perspective. There is always a silver lining to every cloud, everything happens for a reason, feeling sorry for yourself gets you nowhere, and the good Lord only gives you as much as you can handle. I can close my eyes and hear her say those very words. It helps me keep my perspective.

And oh, the sweet memories I have of Grandpa too. He spoiled me like there was no tomorrow. He used to let me take a brand-new box of Lucky Charms and dump it into a mixing bowl until I found the prize. That was against Grandma's rules you know. He would let me spend the day with him watching him work in the barn or shed. As I arranged your nursery, I added pieces Grandpa made for me as a child. The rocking chair he made for Papa and Gigi's wedding. The toy box I got for Christmas when I was three. The shelf that hangs on the wall I got when I was 13, where I stored my Malibu Mist and Exclamation! perfumes. The tiny doll bench you sit on as you play ... all from Grandpa. All in perfect shape because I always wanted to take special care of the things Grandpa made for me. I am so glad I saved them for you, they all have his name and dates on them, too. We'll never forget.

In 60 years, lil' dude, you can imagine there were some tough times for Grandpa and Grandma, as you will learn as you get older. It's not to say you can't manage what life throws at you though, you will be tested. You will be angry. You will cry. You will get up off your knees, dust them off, and get about your business. This I know because the generations before you have. Grandpa has had some health issues over the last 10 years or so. Today, as he has for the past six years, he battles Parkinson's Disease, which robs him of his ability to control his body. It has made me sad to see this big, powerful man in my life lose a little bit of himself each day, each year, to the disease. But his eyes hold the same twinkle. He remembers the punch line to jokes even if it takes him 10 minutes. And faithfully by his side each day has been Grandma, her perseverance, her faith, her love pushing them on. Late this summer, Grandpa was admitted to a nursing home. No one knew if he would come home. Well, I take that back. Both he and Grandma knew he would go home again. Daddy and I took you to see him on a sunny Sunday afternoon, and there, in his tiny room, was the quilt off their bed, his old slippers, and a note on his dresser.
For the nurses/staff:
R. does not wear a part in his hair; please do not comb it with a part. Just comb it straight back.
Thanks, S.

It was a note from Grandma. After her heart was breaking that her husband of 60 years would not sleep in the same house as her, when she was scared of being alone, of just not knowing, she had remembered, she had known to leave that note. She knew Grandpa needed one less thing to be different as he struggled. She knew how he needed it to be, what he wanted, like no one else could.

I take you ...
to have and to hold,
from this day forward,
for better, for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
until death do us part.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

'Cuz It Is

Life. Is. Good.
Life. Is. Good.

Even though you woke up today covered in pee; in a 60* house and shivered through a hasty bath; even though you have a nasty cold and Mama had to hold your forehead down to pry off the boogs; even though your voice is very tiny and scratchy, even though you couldn't drink out of your sippy cup today without nearly drowning; even though you went to bed late last night and had to be woken up this morning which confused you; even though you were bit between the eyes at daycare yesterday; even though that red mark on the back of your neck Monday night has now been confirmed as yet another bite; even though it was only 32* outside; even though Mama shoved 4 layers on you today including your hat and new mittens you couldn't pull off; even though you sneezed and sniffled the whole car ride in and had copious amounts of green snot running into your hood, towards your ears, and onto your lip; even though your sad, wet eyes said, Mama, we should stay home and take hot bubble baths and wear jammies and maybe have some juice and use the pluggie all day long I dropped you off ...

Life is Good.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Project Mama

Because every Little looks like a Gap Kid, an Old Navy Kid ... Gymboree and Target too, the lil' dude needs customized fashion.
Enter Project Mama #1!
What is it?

Oh you know; a pink and camo-green skulls and bones A-line dress.
Complete with diamond-studded star buttons.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Dear lil' dude,

Today I held your new friend, baby H. He is only 4 days old ... he is all pink and soft and smooth and perfect and he never even opened his eyes as I held him. My eyes cried little tears when I remembered you were once that small. My now feisty, determined, crazy little girl ... you once held perfectly still as you slept in my arms.

I talked to H's Mama about how her heart had to grow bigger in the last 4 days, because H has a big sister, A. How she is now two Mamas all in one and she has a baby on each side of her now forever. She cried a little bit, acknowledging the big job and reminiscing about A as a baby. She said there is just nothing like the first one. How it's not ever going to be like the first time.

You, lil' dude, are my first one. You are everything and anything wrapped into one baby girl thing. Today reminded me of what you are to me, and what we are together. You will always be my first everything.

Mama loves.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

She Does?

2pm yesterday.

Conversation the lil' dude's Godfather ... aka, the "Cool Uncle" who was spending the day with her.

Me: "Hi, D, how has your day been?"
D: "Fun! We're having fun."
M: "I knew she would love spending time with you. Nothing scary has happened?"
D: "Well, she pooped right away. I sent you that text. I called the Dad though, I didn't know the tape things came around the diaper from the back."
M: "You didn't know which direction the diaper went on?"
D: "No. Then she peed her pants right before we got in the car."
M: "So, what outfit is she wearing now?"
D: "I don't know, the one she had on earlier?"
M: "You didn't change her clothes?"
D: "No, why? Should I have?"
M: "If she peed in them? Ummm- yeah."
D: "No, she only peed in her diaper. I changed her diaper. It was after she pooped."
M: "So she didn't pee her pants."
D: "Well in her diaper, yeah."
M: "OK. Did she eat good?"
D: "Yeah she ate those two things you left out. They smelled awful."
M: "The organic baby food?
D: "The orange stuff? Yeah. I mean, she really wanted to eat everything. She ate a lot. Will she barf?"
M: "Not usually."
D: "'Cause she did a little. It was more like a wet burp maybe? I don't know, it was orange and stunk and it's on her outfit. Does that need to come off?"
M: "Is it wet still?"
D: "No, it dried on there. But it's orange."
M: "Then leave it."
D: "So yeah, we're just playing on the floor, with her car."
M: "How long has she slept today?"
D: "Today?"
M: "Napped, how long has she napped."
D: "Maybe 10 minutes in the car."
M: "D, she needs to take a nap in her crib."
D: "Oh yeah, I had her in there, but she cried and cried and screamed. When I went in there she put her arms up for me."
M: "Yep, called tough love. Now go shut her shades and find a pluggie or two and turn on her CD player. She has to nap."
D: "But she's not crying now, we're chillin'."
M: "She. Needs. To. Nap. That is non-negotiable."
D: "But she cried so much before when I did that."
M: "If she doesn't nap she will be even worse later. She needs to nap to stay happy."
D: "She does?"

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Letter from Mama, v10

Happy 10 months, Miss Lil' Dude!

You are such a big girl now, you're all kid and not so much baby. You've changed a lot since my last letter, I could fill a page in all you've done in the last month. You're bigger, brighter, stronger, sweeter. At the end of the day when we're all finally home is my favorite-favorite. You squeal and laugh and point and lunge at me for hugs. As I'm standing at the stove or sink, you come crawling at me and the next thing I know you've pulled yourself up on my leg and are saying, "MamaMamaMama." You just want to be part of things, helping me cook, pointing at the birds on the back fence. You eyes travel from my face to our explorations. You want so much to learn. Your little finger folds into a point. "Mama?" you ask.

I love how sweet you are when you are playing with your doll. You pick her up and squeeze her tight to your tiny chest, patting her back. Maybe you are soothing and comforting like I do you when you need it. Maybe it's something you learned playing with your littles at daycare. Maybe it's something you just instinctively know. You should always trust your instincts, lil' dude and do what you feel needs to be done.

You started taking steps stringed together last week. There you go! I feel as though my heart is walking around outside my body with every step you take. I am so proud of you ... I can't even describe it. You also fell and got your first bloody lip so there are some things to be ironed out there but yet you persist. Where do you get your determination? I envy it.

Mama loves.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Lesson in Ridiculousness

Had you told me 10 months ago my life would become so ridiculous, I would have laughed at you. Here are examples of what I mean ... the things I say on a daily basis that, taken out of context, make me sound like a complete lunatic. In the lil' dude's world, they are standard verbiage.

"Lil' dude, please don't lick the entertainment center."
"Lil' dude, why are there three pluggies in the dog's water dish?"
"Lil' dude, please don't lick the gutter downspout. The Beagle pees on that."
"Lil' dude, we do not eat the drain stop from the bathtub."
"Lil' dude, gourds are yucky, No more bites out of the gourd."
"Lil' dude, NO, we don't chew on the Mac's power cords."
"Lil' dude, the dirt stays in the garden/flower bed/flower pots. Don't eat it."
"Lil' dude, give me that dirty diaper. Oh wow, you're gross."
"Lil' dude, where are the last four pages of this library book?"
"Lil' dude, honey, sweetie, please tell me you didn't eat that entire graham cracker in two bites?"
"Lil' dude, Mama's wine rack is not a toy. Let's put that bottle of Shiraz back ..."
"Lil' dude, you gotta stop puking behind the end table. I can't reach it before the dog does."
"Lil' dude, you're going to cut your mouth on that Miller Lite can. Empties are not toys."
"Lil' dude, we already took your hat off. You are now just pulling on your hair, honey. Ouchie."

And that was just a typical Sunday.

Friday, October 3, 2008

In Lyrics

One Two Three Four
Tell me that you love me more
Sleepless, long nights
That was what my youth was for

Oh teenage hopes are alive at your door
Left you with nothing
But they want some more

Oh, oh, oh
You're changing your heart
Oh, oh, oh
You know who you are


The song is by Feist. You are already humming the tune, aren't you?
What else goes One Two Three Four?
The lil' dude as she took her first step.
Then two.
And her third.
Then a fourth.

One Two Three Four
Tell me that you love me more.

I am so proud of you, lil' dude. My arms will always be open to catch you.

Mama loves-