Saturday, February 28, 2009

All Sprinkled with Magic & Love

All sprinkled with magic and love.

Happy birthday, Fairy Godmother.

lil' dude

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Piece

I have a secret.

All winter long, I've carried a little piece of the lil' dude around with me. In my brown, puffy coat with the fur, there is a tiny barrette. It is lime green and it's in the pocket.

At first, I put the barrette there for safe keeping when we were running around and she lost it.
A few days went by and it was still in my pocket. I would consciously tell myself to return it to her drawer that houses all her girly stuff. But I never did.

Instead, I found immense pleasure in touching the barrette in my pocket when I would go to the gym in the mornings.
Or sprint across the cold parking lot at work.
Or scan the aisles of the craft store getting ideas.
Or running to meet an Auntie at Caribou.
Or even taking the recyclables to the end of the driveway.

It's a tiny piece of the lil' dude and it always brings a smile to my face ... a secret smile. I feel somehow more close to her when we're apart. I know it likely sounds ridiculous- which is why it's been my secret until now.

Because, soon the snow will all melt and the sun will be warm and the grass will reappear.
And, I will stow away my brown, puffy coat with the fur.
And what will I do then?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Last night:

Me: I asked M to stop by on her way home so she can trim the lil' dude's bangs.
The Dad: Your bangs?
Me: No, the lil' dude's. Maybe she should try to straighten out her mullet too?
The Dad: Why? No.
Me: Well, her hair is long and uneven in the back. Thought M could align it. But, her bangs are in her face. Annoying.
The Dad: We have scissors.
Me: To cut apart raw chicken with. M has been doing my hair exclusively since 2003. She can trim her bangs.
The Dad: Just leave the back then, I don't want her to get all cut-crazy and make her bald.
Me: Just her bangs. For now. The mullet can wait.
The Dad: I just don't see why we can't cut her hair ourselves.
Me: No. Way.
The Dad: I cut my own hair.
Me: Looking at his smooth, shaved head. NO.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Yesterday, I put three little Oreos on the lil' dude's highchair after she gobbled down her chicken noodle soup-lunch.

Three, teeny, tiny baby Oreos- a first for the girl.

She picked them up, one at a time, and smelled them. Big inhale ... even bigger smile.

She stuck her pink tongue out, testing the white filling.

She threw the first two down her gullet in one fell swoop.

Chewing and chewing and swallowed. Gone. Big slurp of milk to wash the cookie goodness down brought her to her very last cookie.

She picked it up, smelled it, smiled, and paused.

Mama? she asked. Cookie?

A girl willing to share her very last Oreo?


Thursday, February 19, 2009

One Year Down ...

Today marks the one year anniversary of the lil' dude starting daycare and Mama going back to work.
As I sat down last night to write a thank-you note the the daycare lady, I struggled to come up with the right words.
Thank you for wiping her tears.
Kissing her owwies.
Encouraging her imagination.
Letting her enjoy cupcakes as rare treats.
Thank you for being there, for being me, when I cannot be for her.

I still struggle with finding balance a year later. I am missing things. I am cutting things short.
I am doing the best I can.

I want the lil' dude to know I make this decision in majority, for her. I am in the minority. I want her to know I worked hard to get through college and obtain a four year degree. I am proud of my career and put my education to great use everyday. I try to remember I am doing this for her, socking away money into her saving account each week so she can choose her path someday. So she can have her education and chances at the career she desires.

And me? I did not go to daycare when I was little. Before my brother was born, my mom worked days, and my dad afternoons. He had to learn to how to do my hair. They- we all- made it work. Once my brother did arrive, my mom quit her job to stay at home. She went back to work once he started school and has worked since.
The Dad? He did not go to daycare when he was little ... except his mom did daycare out of their home. Once the daycare kids would go home for the day, his mom would head on up to the chicken plant in town where she worked the afternoon shift. She would see her kids, the Dad and his little brother, on her supper break in the car in the parking lot, where she would say her goodnights. They made it work.

People make it work when it comes to their families.
Like I am trying to.

One year ago today, I got this email from my dad:

Hi Kid,
Welcome back to the working world. I suspect there were a couple tears shed at some point over the past 24 hrs. Just remember there are 168 hrs in every week and the lil' dude will be with you or the Dad around 123 of those hours. More than enough time to mold her into what ever you want. Just make sure you go to the right house to pick her up instead of a neighbor two doors down like I did with W. when we lived in the City.


I have that email taped up in my office. I read it often ... a constant reminder to make it work, make the small stuff count, and to never be too hard on myself.

The lil' dude on her first day of daycare ...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The lil' dude has a Noah's Ark she got for her birthday from one of her besties, AJ.

She loves playing with her Ark animals and taking them in and out of the boat.
Her grandparents sent more animals for Valentine's Day ... lion cubs, panda bears, and tortoises. OMG, they are so cute.
As I helped the lil' dude open her animals Saturday morning, the Dad remarked, "It's weird there are two of each. You think they could come up with more variety to include."

"Serious?" I asked him.
"What? Why?" he wanted to know.
"You DO know this is Noah's Ark, right? How God commanded Noah to take two of every living animal, male and female, on his Ark to save all species from the great flood? Two of them so they could ... repopulate?"

The Dad said, "I don't remember that stuff."
I am ordering the rest of the Ark animals online. Today. This is an emergency.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th was not good for you, lil' dude.
You took a nasty tumble ... into the very sharp corner of your changing table. As Daddy and I reconstructed the crime scene to look for evidence, we came to the conclusion you slipped on a book as you were running from your room.

You had an instant goose egg. I tried to get you to sit still on my lap so Mama could soothe you and kiss your owies. But, in true lil' dude fashion, you wanted no part. You wouldn't even let me put a bag of frozen peas on your welt. Off you went.
So, you woke up on Valentine's Day looking like this...

Sorta tough-looking for a day intended to be full of love and hearts and sweetness, no?

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Happy Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 13, 2009


Before I was a Mom,
I never tripped over toys
or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not
my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Chewed on.
Peed on.
I had complete control of my mind
and my thoughts.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held down a screaming child
so doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night
watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held a sleeping baby just because
I didn't want to put her down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces
when I couldn't stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small
could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom,
I didn't know the feeling of
having my heart outside my body...
I didn't know how special it could feel
to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond
between a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small
could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night
every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth,
the joy,
the love,
the heartache,
the wonderment
or the satisfaction of being a Mom.

I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much,
before I was a Mom .

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Oh lil' dude, what a tiny sponge you are. How cognizant you are of all that goes on around you.

Last night, baby JW's mama brought him over to play with you ... and you squealed with delight when you saw him arrive! You watched very excitedly as his mama hoisted him upstairs in his car seat, the handle slung over her arm.

You ran over to him, peered into his little face. You took his pluggie, handing it to me.

You were very still as the tiny little fella was unwrapped from his seat, and you watched closely as Daddy picked up JW.

Then, without abandon, you hijacked all his stuff.

Because you and your baby had places to go.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Miss Potato Head

All this time I have been telling everyone there is not one single thing the lil' dude will not eat.
I take that back.

She will not eat my homemade mashed potatoes.

I know, right. What type of girl won't eat a comfort food like mashed potatoes?

In our house, we eat way more rice than we do potatoes. I can honestly say I don't love spuds. I'll eat a baked potato once or twice a year, at a banquet or wedding, what have you. Never by my own volition. The lil' dude has come this far eating rice three times a week or so- brown rice, wild rice, rice pilaf, white rice, cheesy rice. So maybe it's my fault she won't eat potatoes.

I've seen her employ french fries as a mere vehicle to deliver the ketchup to her tasty little palate. She'll dip the same fry over and over again until it's too mushy to stand up to the task. The lil' dude will then discard it, reaching for another.

Last summer, when she was on her vaca circuit and spent the week at my parents', my mom emailed she wouldn't eat her mashed potatoes and gravy. I didn't dwell on it. She was seven months old.
At Thanksgiving, same thing. No, uh-uh.
Christmas Eve, we showed up at my grandma's unannounced and were treated to an early meal of homemade Swedish meatballs, gravy, and potatoes. That kid all but devoured the meatballs, gulped at the gravy, and threw the potatoes to the house dog.

And my mashed potatoes? are good. Lots of real butter, salt, freshly smashed garlic, heavy cream or milk. They are whipped up into a mound of velvety goodness. They are the perfect complement to any side of beef or pork. Add steamed green beans or broccoli and that's a helluva meal. Just not what the lil' dude wants.

Last night, I made a similar dinner. Roasted pork, potatoes, cheesy broccoli. I divided little portions of each out for the lil' dude and put her bowl on her highchair tray.

Minutes later, I inspected her bowl. Most of the potatoes were gone. The Beagle, a forever fixture on the linoleum beside the table was drooling, proof he hadn't been tossed anything. I knew she would come around to Mama's mashed potatoes.

I was about to walk away from her when something made me stop and inspect my daughter.

I got to eye-level and said very quietly, "lil', dude, what did you do with your potatoes?"
She smiled at me.
Turned her head ever so slightly to the left.
Where I saw all her potatoes, smashed into the dewy softness of her hair.
Handfuls of garlicky starch all over the back of her scalp, her neck, her highchair.
Big nonpotatoeatin' grin on her face.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Letter from Mama, v14

You are 14 months old today, lil' dude.
I chose the picture above because it best describes you as a 14 month old: insane. Sweet insane.

These days, our house rings with the sound of your sweet laugh and tiny little words. You are a whirling dervish who go, go, goes. Your energy and imagination and determination are endless. I joke with your aunties how I need duct tape for your little tushie sometimes- but I don't mean it. I would never hold you down or make you stop.

The other day, you were playing at a friends' with some plastic balls that go in and out of a shoot, catapulting them into the air. This was pure joy for you. When you lost a ball under the toy box though, you crawled on your belly and extended your little arm as far as it would reach. "Oh oh, Mama!" you kept repeating, too distracted by the ball loss to continue playing. I retrieved the ball for you, you grinned, and began playing again. It's instances like this where I can see you turning into a tiny, minuscule person who has thoughts and ideas and processes information in the ways adults do, like Mama and Daddy. It's amazing to watch you grow and transform and it happens so quickly.

This month, you've established a left-hand preference. You insist on walking down any flights of stairs, while holding some one's hand. You can sign please (with much prompting) and dole out high-fives without restraint. You pick out the books you want read to you. You like raisins, dipping all your food, taking off your clothes at bedtime, and handing Mama and Daddy our phones and the remote. All these little big things you didn't do just weeks ago. You're working on sharing- meaning, you will let about anyone take anything from you without wanting it back, or voicing your dismay. That characteristic, lil' dude, that easygoing demeanor of yours, you get from Daddy. You two are so chill. When I see that happen, I want to intercede and make things right for you. But I don't. You have to learn on your own how to work things out so you get what's fair, so you understand compromise. I trust you'll get there.

At night, when I sneak into your room before I go to sleep, I lean down to hear your little puffs of breath. I stay for just a few seconds, listening and being so thankful for you. You know what? There is nothing I would change about you, lil' dude. Nothing I think would make you better. You have everything and do everything you are supposed to. I hope I always remember that, as you continue to grow and become and more and more than you already are. Keep reminding me, baby girl. You are exactly the way you are supposed to be.

Mama loves.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Young Love

Tell me what's the definition of love.
It seems like everybody thinks they done figured it out but every time they fall up in it, they fall out, in and out it again

Tell me how they gonna know about us, telling me and you that we ain't even been around long enough
We can prove 'em wrong, show 'em how it's done, I know that we can do it

Young love, young love everything I need I got my young love
Young love, young love everything I want I got in my young love

Young Love, lyrics by Chris Brown.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

In the (Gene) Pool

The lil' dude started swimming lessons this week with her trusty sidekick, the Dad.
I wouldn't call them lessons, per se. The kids, with an age variance of 12mo.-5 years, get to spend 25 minutes in the pool with a parent being acclimated to the water ... singing songs about turtles, blowing bubbles, simulating floating, and playing with floaty toys.

And, he's been waiting to enroll her since she was in a swaddle. Seems around here the littles have to be at least 12mo. old to participate. So, he signed her up for 8 sessions and packed their gear and headed for the pool.

Of course the lil' dude is the youngest, and the smallest in her group. She totally rocked a bikini too.
And did she rule the pool!
She didn't cry. She didn't cling to the Dad's neck in fear. Love!
She did cry when they got out.

The lil' dude's grandma S., upon hearing of the aquatic adventures she'd be undertaking, sent this email:

Oh! Swimming lessons! You know, we started the Dad in lessons when he was just 6 months old. And he LOVED it! Took right to it, like a fish! He then went on to become one of the BEST lifeguards this town has ever had.

So it's in her genes, her affinity for water.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Have I ever told you, lil' dude, the story about when Daddy and I got to see you for the first time, when Mama was still pregnant with you?
It's called an ultrasound and the doctors take pictures of babies floating around in their Mama's bellies to make sure everything is normal and good and fine.
Anyhow, you did something funny during your ultrasound.
You wouldn't let the technician see your heart.
Or the second technician.
Or Mama's doctor.
You kept your heart covered by your tiny arms crossed over your chest. You shimmied and squirmed away from everyone trying to look at you.

It was not a bad thing, what you did. But doctors need to see baby hearts before they are born to make sure everything is normal and good and fine.
So, I had to have another ultrasound after that one. The one where you finally showed everyone your big little heart.

And since that day, since you showed us your heart for the first time, you haven't stopped.
You show us everyday how big your heart is, how plain it is for us to see.
You love to love and be sweet and kind and giving. And you? are totally good at it.

You can hug fiercely. You can cry when someone else cries. Your mood changes perceptively when somber music comes on. And all those things come from your heart.

Like here, in this picture. With the Beagle.

It was Sunday and we went outside for some air and (cold) sunshine. We put you in your birthday wagon for the first time. We covered you to your chin with a big blanket and settled the Beagle in across from you. You squealed with delight because how you love the Beagle!
Down the driveway Daddy pulled you two along ... until, the Beagle cried out with a big yelp.
Seems Daddy (and Mama) forgot he was wearing his collar for the invisible fence and it shocked him when you two went over the line on the driveway, in your wagon ride. Oh, how he cried as he jumped out and sprinted toward safety. It made Daddy and I feel so, so bad.

Your little eyes looked so sad, lil' dude. You felt so bad for him. At that moment when the Beagle ran away, you wanted out of your wagon. Right. Now.
So we let you out.
And you ran straight for him.

And you hugged him as tight as your little mittens would let you.
I know it made you feel better. To show him your heart.
And I know it made him feel better, too.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Six More Weeks

The lil' dude saw her shadow yesterday.
This means we are to have six more weeks of winter.
Or according to that old legend about February 2 and the significance of seeing shadows anyways.