Friday, May 29, 2009

Daddy. Outside.

Listen here, missy.

Just because you wanted nothing to do with the homemade chicken Parmesan I heaped onto you plate last night; just because you resisted your highchair; just because you saw Daddy Outside as he was finishing a project before dinner; just because you think you are SO big ... doesn't mean you can simply open the sliding screen door and beebop your little blond butt down the deck stairs and across the yard to Daddy Outside as I am preoccupied cleaning marinara sauce off my floor and cupboards.

Oh no you don't. Just who do you think you are, little miss big girl?

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Some kids loathe the carseat, traveling, upsetting routine.

Not you, lil' dude. You're perfectly content to go bye-bye whenever and wherever.

Just give a girl her shades, blanket, snacks, and cup.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009



You have been blessed once again, by the birth of your newest bestie, a little named T2. He arrived Friday night, and we couldn't wait to meet him! You've been enamored with T2's big brother for awhile now, and look, here's a miniature version of him for you to snack on. Just kidding. We don't eat our friends. We love our friends.

You're a lucky little girl. You belong to a very special circle of littles. You know all your aunties? The ladies your Mama grew up with, of whom your Fairy Godmother is a member? Well, you, Big T, T2, and AJ are the second generation of that group. You're our future. We are family.

I can't wait until you all build sandcastles together and eat way too many s'mores before bedtime; until you leave all your dripping wet mittens in my entryway; until you tattle on each other and push each other and come back to each other, whispering and hugging each other's necks at goodbye time.

I can't wait until you chant, This is the blood of our people, the wolf people, the alligator people, and the moon women from which we gain our strength to rule all worlds just like the littles do in the Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Only your chant and your group will be a peoplehood. Welcome to your peoplehood, lil' dude.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Every Day

Not just today, Memorial Day, but every day. Every day I think about both of my grandfathers, wishing I could be close enough to their grave sites to touch the cool stone bearing their name and service information, close enough to watch the lil' dude as she squats to feel the flowers left behind.

For my Grandpa D., you spoiled me, your only granddaughter, each day you were alive. I can still hear your laugh in my head.

For my Grandpa R., you had the biggest heart of anyone I've known. I hope you know how proud I am of the fight you put up.

So not just today. Every day. Thank you both for the honor you did our families and the commitment you served. I am blessed to be your granddaughter.

Friday, May 22, 2009

A Season of Goodbyes

Lil' dude, your Auntie L. and her family are heading East today- destined for their new life. It meant I had to say goodbye to her, in the parking lot of Caribou Coffee, tears streaming down my face in the wind storm.

Be brave I whispered, to her, and me.

These words will sound familiar; they were written behind Auntie L.'s name in my wedding program where she stood by my side as a bridesmaid.

L. was my first official friend in town and definite security blanket. I knew I immediately wanted (and needed) to be her friend thanks to her outrageous sense of humor, huge smile, and infectious personality. We instantly realized how many similarities we share. She is an absolute believer in love and the total pursuit of happiness, and she was invaluable to me when I was trying to figure out both. She taught me how to really listen to a song, grow strong houseplants, and laugh like there's no tomorrow. Being the last person I lived with in my single years, L. will always be someone I cherish for going through that transition with me so unselfishly.

We grew up together, I met her when I was 20. The last season of my childhood. We grew up together and had babies. I remember asking her late one night, when I was 6 months pregnant, can I take Benadryl? My allergies were out of control and I hadn't slept well in days. Auntie L. saved me, told me to take the pill and go to sleep. She's saved me more than once.

And you want to know a secret? Mama loves? That came from her too. I heard her whisper it to her daughter A. when she was about 2 months old. That girl is almost 4 now.

So, L.? Mama loves. I'll miss you, but never goodbye.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Two nights ago I was downstairs in the guest room wrapping Auntie K's birthday gift. The lil' dude's bedroom is right above where I was dutifully wrapping. It was a little past 8pm; I had just tucked her in. I could hear her through the ceiling, doing God-knows-what crazy thing she does.

"Hey," the Dad called. "Come up here a sec,"
I followed his voice upstairs.
"Can you hear the lil' dude?" he asked.
"Yes, I could hear her downstairs. What is she doing? It sounds like ..."
The Dad said, "barking. I think she is barking."
"I thought meowing."
"Wait," he said, listening further. "She's growling. Definitely growling."
I said, "she's weird."
"Now she is howling! The lil' dude is howling!"

If I could be a fly on her wall, I totally would. She works in mysterious ways. And? Just this morning, she somehow woke up on her own, very quietly, removed a bumper from her crib, and pulled all her dirty clothes out of her hamper and smuggled the soiled cargo into her bed. When I went in there to wake her up, I busted her trying to put one of her filthy t-shirts on Curious George.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Girl Talk

When we got home last night after our days, you wanted the usual.
Snack- grapes, two helpings!
Arthur on PBS.

I was busy getting dinner ready and unloading the dishwasher. You came in the kitchen with your empty bowl, and slid it on the counter. You showed me your sticky hands and I hoisted you up to wash them off. As I tried to set you back down, you said, "no, up." So I held you.

You swiveled around until you were off my hip and settled against my belly. We were eye-to-eye.
Nose, you said, touching the tip of mine.
"Nose," I said, mimicking your move.
Pretty, you said, pointing to my necklace, an ancient turquoise stone medallion encased in silver. It belonged to my Grandma Pancake.
"Yes, that's Mama's pretty," I said.
Mama, you said pointing at me.
"Lil' dude."

You grew quiet and your words stopped. You wrapped your tiny arms around my neck and put your head underneath my chin. We swayed back and forth, back and forth. I felt my eyes sting with tears. I could smell the lasagna burning; it didn't matter. I will hold you always. Thank you for asking.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Day at the Park

Each time I take you to the park, you seem much bigger to me. You need less help. You run without abandon.

You sit on the regular swings. No baby swing for you. You smiled so big.

You have no problem entertaining yourself. I just follow you around and around.

The world is your park, baby girl. Explore every inch.

Don't think I didn't spy you wistfully watching the big girls kick around a soccer ball. Someday soon, you'll be fast like them.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cars Full of Stuff

I see freeways full of girls in tiny Hondas and Toyotas with their entire lives filling every window. They've got their giant sunglasses on, hair in high ponytails, and they are singing out loud to every song on the radio. It's that time of year again.

They are going home.

I made that trip a few times. After finals my Freshman year, my Dad came to retrieve my Hefty bags full of my belongings. He left separately, giving me time to say goodbye to an entire floor of new friends. It was raining, and we were all crying. The only thought I had on the two-hour ride home was, at least all my girls will be home for the summer.

After finals my Sophomore year, my Mom came to retrieve my Hefty bags full of my belongings. She left separately, giving me time to say goodbye to a new boyfriend. I cried my face off. The only thought I had on the two-hour ride home was, this will be the last summer we're all together at home.

That was 2000, the last summer of my childhood. I was 20. It would be the last time I shared a mailbox with my parents, a bathroom with my brother, and the last time I lived rent/mortgage free. I spent the summer charming and flirting my way into large tips at a resort and at a local Mexican restaurant. I set my alarm for 4:50am each morning, and usually set it each night after midnight. The girls and I drank underage at places we knew we could. I remember that 4th of July at the high school, feeling so old compared to everyone there. If I had two hours before a shift, I'd head to Pelican to work on my tan with my baby-blue Oakleys on. My mom would leave notes on the kitchen island, phone messages in the bathroom, and leftover dinner in the fridge. I had it good that summer. I was home.

Late that August, I packed up my Honda quietly. I'd gotten good at packing and unpacking and subsisting on a few boxes of clothes and borrowed shampoo. My parents were both at the sink when I left. I opened the door to the garage and hollered up to them, "I'm leaving ... bye." I couldn't face hugging either of them in my kitchen. I couldn't manage outwardly acknowledging I was leaving home forever. After all, I was only 20.

I cried all the way to college that time. I knew I had to grow up. When I called home to say I had made it safely, I apologized to my mom for not saying goodbye, really. She reminded me it was my decision always- to go, to stay. I knew she was right. That next summer, when I was 21 and definitely not going home, was different. It took me weeks to find a job. I asked the lil' dude's Fairy Godmother for rent money. I added summer classes in hopes of finishing my degree in four years. I found a place to change my oil- a task only my dad had ever done for me.

Home for the summer. It's where I always want to be. I don't want to sit here in May and fill up my calendar. I want to delight in long, dusky evenings on the deck with the Dad. I want to reap the benefits of my garden, and let the lil' dude eat sun-warmed cherry tomatoes straight off the vine. I want to push her stroller to the local coffee shop for root beer floats and iced mochas. I want to scrub her feet clean along with mine each night in the tub. I want her to have my memories. I want her to have her Pelican and best friends on the 4th of July. I always want her carloads full of stuff to come home.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Happy Mother's Day!

To my Mama- I've always wanted to be just like you, especially now.

To the Dad's Mama- thank you for raising such a wonderful son.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Puppy Dogs & Popsicles

I caught you sharing, lil' dude. Your heart is too big for your tiny chest.

Because everything tastes sweeter when shared with a friend.

Your heart is as big as the sky.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Letter from Mama, v17

Happy 17mo. birthday, lil' dude!

You are gently becoming the person you will become, each day growing more and more. Your personality and attitudes are well-defined. Yesterday morning you melted when I tried to help you with your shoes- me, you roared. You indeed.

I didn't know fear until I became your Mama. Each day you conquer new things on your own, pushing the limits and yourself further and further away from me. It's a fearful process- trying to manage a piece of my very own body, my very own soul as it operates on its own separate from me. But, and this is important; I do not give in. I don't let fear incapacitate me because what would I be teaching you? I never want you to live in fear, I never want you to make choices based on being scared, or afraid of getting hurt. You'd miss too much of the good things in life. You have me taught that already.

Raising children is no small feat. It's life's greatest and biggest blessing and challenge. I think raising daughters goes a little beyond that. I want you to grow up healthy and strong and determined and smart and challenged and fearless. And that begins now. As I nurture your sweet side, reason with your temperamental side, delight in your creative side, and foster your sensitive side, I am completely conscious of the form you are taking, what type of girl you are molding into. I am careful to kiss you for your patience and thoughtfulness just as I am to compliment you on your dazzling smile. There is more than the outside to any package, lil' dude, please always remember that. You are the sum of all your parts. It makes me love myself more, having you as my tiny sidekick. You're my greatest source of inspiration to be, simply, better.

Last night you crawled in my lap in your lemon jammies and we just sat like that for awhile. You were thumbing through a magazine, pointing out every puppy and bunny and baby you saw. You turned around to look me in the eye as you spoke, making sure I could hear your words. I heard them, baby girl. I hear everything you say. It's moments like that one, where we're so close I can smell your sweet breath and see the rise and fall of your bitty chest, that I almost can't believe I am lucky enough to be your mother. How blessed I am to have you as my daughter.

Mama loves.

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Or, in standard English, shoes.
Doesn't matter, lil' dude. You are smitten.
This should not surprise me. Your father built the downstairs floor plan to include shoe closet- for his shoes! Don't worry, I have a few pairs there too. And about 78 other pairs tucked around our home here and there.

We are a shoe family.

Last night after your bath, you kept asking for your shuss. Pleading with me. So I did what any sane mother would do and relented. I gave you this pair of flip-flops to satisfy your appetite- as I have hidden all your other pairs away from you, and stowed them on a high, high shelf. Evil, I know. But if there are shoes in plain sight, it's all you want to do. Last night, by the way? I caught you licking Daddy's disgusting garage shoes. Licking his shoes! You are a maniac.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Hey, lil' dude. I wanted to tell you how proud of you I am.

I came home last night, from being away from home for four days, to find you just as sweet and content as you were last week.

Thank you for being such a good girl for Daddy. I know he had fun with you! Dinner at the diner Friday night for corn-dogs and ketchup; Saturday cruising garage sales in your stroller and picking out new clothes for both of you at Old Navy; and Sunday a road-trip to your first MLB game. I am sad I missed the two of you yesterday in your gear and Daddy carrying all your stuff in his Jordan backpack and not your diaper bag.

I'm so proud of you for being a big girl and glad you had so much fun with your biggest fan!