Thursday, April 30, 2009

Never Goodbye

She was there when I dreamed of you.
She was there, first in line, when I told her of you.
She was there, when Daddy called, as everyone learned of you.

She's always, always been there. Your Auntie M., one of Mama's dearest, favoritest, most important friends.
She gave you your very first purse.
And so, so much more.

Your Auntie M is brave. She doesn't think so, but I tell her anyways. She's following her heart ... 830 miles away from me- from us. I've encouraged her, and fostered her ability to go with everything I have because simply; I am her proponent and I love her always.

Now I'll learn to love her differently. From far away. But really, she's here, in this spot I touch. She's in my heart, nestled in my soul, and forever embedded in my memory. Not far away, really.

She was there from the very beginning ...

I've known Auntie M. for nearly seven years, yet I feel like I've known her my whole life. When something is good, it just is. Lil' dude, I hope for you with all my heart you meet someone like her to be your own right arm someday. Nothing in life is as good without a friend to share it with you. I know she's made me a better mother. Better person.

So to her I say, goodbye, good luck, and good shoes.
But not really the goodbye part.
Never goodbye.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


You have ants in your pants.

Even as you are giving into sleep, in my arms in the rocker, your feet are go-go-going. They never stop.
Show you a mountain and you'll climb it. It's insane, really, how fearless and at the ready you are for everything.
I watched you play with some littles Sunday night- girls. The three of you sat on your blanket and played with babies and keys and cell phones and purses and dump trucks. You were sitting, actually on your tushie, playing and interacting so nicely.

18 seconds went by ...

Then, you were gone. Trying to climb onto the windowsill so you could peer at the neighbors. Watch the dog pee on a tree. See the cars drive by. I do love that you gave sit-still playing a chance, but it's clearly not you. I feel and know that is not who you are. The littles kept playing, completely content and oblivious to the blur that was you.

Daddy and I are unfazed by your willingness to turn laundry baskets and empty Cruisers boxes into stepping stools. We don't even notice how close to the edge of anything you are anymore, until we hear someone gasp and reach out for you. You've narrowly escaped gushing head wounds and split eyebrows by millimeters. You smile, we exhale.

Your new favorite adventure is the dining room table. Daddy likes to do an Olympic commentary featuring you as ShaunJohn, the teeny gymnast Shaun Johnson. Little girl, huge spirit- a lot like someone we know.

You, my dear, score a Perfect 10.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Waking Up is Hard to Do

P.s. It's the weekend, sweetheart. You can FINALLY sleep in!
P.s.s. Summer jammies!! Yeay! With skulls on them!
P.s.s.s. Why do you look so big this morning?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I Confess ...

Sometimes, when people at work tell me I look tired, I tell them I was up all night with the lil' dude.
It's never true. We all know that girl wakes up once in every never during the night.

If the lil' dude is stuck on a particular book and I am so very tired of reading it, I will hide it for a few days.
That Goodnight, Elmo book? Kills. Me.

I'll let the lil' dude take very, very long baths just so I can clean the bathroom while she's in the tub. And sometimes, I use that time to finish reading whatever magazine I'm in the middle of. Total raisin fingers.

There are sippy cups in my work refrigerator that belong to my daughter. If she doesn't finish her milk on the way in each morning, I keep it cold rather than tossing it. Hello, expensive. Tuesday, I brought home three cups.

I tell people the lil' dude wanted a Happy Meal when really, Mama wanted a Big Mac.

I'll give her free reign of a forbidden kitchen cabinet if I want to get something accomplished, or eat my pork chops in silence, like last night.

I'll keep her home from daycare with just a sniffle so I can have a day off, too.

It's OK, right?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Armful

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns,
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with - hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best.
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.

-Robert Frost, 1928

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kickstart Your Heart

Ooo, ahh, kickstart my heart
Hope it never stops
And to think, we did all of this...
To rock

Kickstart my heart

It's inevitable children will share likes with their parents. It has to do with environment, and the nurture aspect. They'll conspire secretly with one another over their mutual fondness and forever have that bond.

It's the same for me, lil' dude. Your Grandma G. and I both love coffee, cooking, crafts, and writing letters. Your Grandpa W. and I both love books, antiquing, drinking wine, and sharing music. It's these things that make me feel close to my parents.

And for you? You'll have this in your life too, and you seem to already.
You and I like blankets, music, reading, eating vegetables, and shopping.
You and Daddy like watching cartoons, playing basketball, eating sweets, sleeping, and Motley Crue.

Oh, yeah, I said that right. Motley Crue.

It's strange. Daddy was flipping through the HD channels last night and found a live Motley Crue concert. He began imitating the drum solos into the opening act of Kickstart my Heart ... as I watched in amazement. I had no idea he was a fan. He began listing numerous Motley Crue albums and the hits off each one. He was completely unapologetic as he strummed his air guitar and belted out the lyrics.

And you, lil' dude, you were right there, Daddy's wingman, thrashing your head around and throwing your arms into the air. This went on and on ... you keeping the beat with your tiny body, and Daddy with those awful lyrics.

You both Kickstart My Heart, you freaky people.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I never want to forget:

How much you love to brush your teeth. As soon as I rouse you from your sleep each morning, you point to your mouth and say all sleepy, teeth. You take your time just like your daddy does.

How you and your neighbor bestie, E., fought this week. Over the chair. Over babies. Over blankets, sippy cups, books, and toys. NO, MINE. NO, MINE. Don't get me wrong; I don't condone that type of behavior, but it's interesting to see how you're developing and making your own declarations, placing emphasis on what's important to you, and asserting yourself. We just have to work on the niceties of all of it.

How you polished off two giant heaps of baked beans last night. For a girl who doesn't care for potatoes, you sure eat a lot of other "surprising" foods.

How when I tuck you in at night, and whisper the same thing into your neck, "sweet dreams, lil' dude, Mama loves," you give me a kiss, then wave bye-bye when I lay you down.

How you go stand by the pantry door and say, 'nack, please. Mama, 'nack. when you want to eat Craisins, or cheddar bunnies or raisins.

How you say, all-D when you are done with something. All-d!

How you sit by the Beagle when he eats, giving him one kibble at a time, and how gentle you are. (And how surprised I am at the Beagle's patience and gentleness toward you!) How you pick up his bowl and put it on the counter when he is ... all-d!

How your Daycare Lady told me yesterday, "I love the lil' dude. She refuses to be little. She has to do what the big kids do. Slide. Swing. Climb." You make Mama's heart burst!

How you do that shoulder-shrug thing you do! It's so innocent and sweet- like you have momentary shyness at times and all you have left to communicate is your shrug.

How when we're driving, you're almost always silent and just observing the world around you, until you spot a dog and exclaim loudly, "puppy!' even if it's blocks away. You love dogs!

How I find pieces of you everywhere, like your little strawberry Gerber snack stick currently in my purse. Makes me smile.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Dear lil' dude,
You had your fingers jammed in your ears for an entire day.
You slept poorly- crying out in the dark- every hour, on the hour.
You just seemed sorta grumpy.

$20 co-pay says you just have a head cold.
But I have $20 on you just wanted everyone to be quiet for awhile.
To give you a break.
I don't blame you.

Mama loves.

Monday, April 13, 2009

As One

Easter was always a fabulous holiday for me growing up. My parents, grandparents, Godparents ... everyone went all out.

My mom would get up early and trace the Easter Bunny's footprints throughout our house using a stencil and baking soda. She would fill eggs with scavenger hunt clues that led us to our baskets.

My dad always helped us dye our Easter eggs. We'd peel and eat our colored eggs dipped in Italian Dressing all weekend long. To this day, vinegar makes me think of Easter.

My grandma would spend hours on Saturday rolling, baking, and icing dozens of her famous orange bunny rolls.

My grandpa would hide plastic Easter eggs all over the farm for 14 grandkids to find. We each had a color, size, and quantity to find before we could claim our baskets.

6 Jumbo Pink

I remember sitting anxiously through church ... wearing tights that itched, shoes that rubbed, and playing with the new notebook and sparkly pens I had found in my basket that morning. I remember Lipsmackers in Jelly Bean, Marshmallow, and Chocolate Mint. How we couldn't have any candy in church, or until dinner at noon was over. I remember Dirt cups as dessert, Jello cake in pink, and those little nests made out of corn flakes my mom made.

Yesterday, I became the Easter bunny.

This year, the lil' dude was all about Easter. She had her picture with the Easter Bunny, hunted for eggs, ate jellybeans, and tore into her baskets. Last year, she wore a bright, polka-dotted dress and slept most the time. This year, it became real to me.

As we sat in church yesterday and I balanced my daughter on my lap, so many memories of Easter flooded my memory. Everything I mentioned above. The texture of my crocheted rabbit Easter basket. Zion Lutheran's Easter Egg bake, a recipe that made me cry when my mom included it in my wedding cookbook. The spray-painted Easter tree and tiny wooden ornaments in our living room window.

There is such a fine line between child and adult. How one day I'm clutching that bread bag with my 6 Jumbo Pink note and the next I'm pressing a tiny plaid dress and filing a basket. How instead of spending Easter afternoon trading red jellybeans for white ones, I'm washing hands and looking for lost shoes and coaxing naps from a weary little girl. A little girl who belongs to me, for whom I am responsible for instilling wonderful holiday memories within. How I'm transforming as one person- girl, child. Mama, adult.

On a mission- an egg hunting mission!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Eggs & Kisses

Happy Easter, Internetz. May all your Easter baskets be bigger than your heads.


Thursday, April 9, 2009

No Use Crying Over Spilt ...

Your new favorite obsession is this:

Your grandparents brought it for your last week, an early Christmas gift, they called it. Way early, December baby! Whatever. You pink-puffy-heart it!

You wake up early to watch cartoons in it.
You talk to your babies in it.
You eat your Craisins in it.
You drink your milk in it.
You read your books in it.
You torment the Beagle in it.
You talk on the phone in it.
You wear your pj's in it.
You cry in it.
And, you pee in it.

That last part is my fault. I know it is. Last night after your bath, I let you run around stark-raving mad and nude. Your tush needed a bit of a break, so to speak. So you were au-naturel, baby. Running free.
You made an obvious beeline for your chair, and settled in to read your Sesame Street book. (You have a new fascination with Sesame Street; you love Cookie Monster and even Elmo.)
Anyways, there you were nude, reading. Daddy was about to capture this priceless moment on video when all of a sudden you jerked your book out of the way, looked down, and burst into tears. You were peeing in your chair!
I started laughing, Daddy was hollerin', and you were sobbing. What a scene.

I calmed you down and got your pj's on while Daddy cleaned up the mess and stripped the chair to be washed. Your tears stopped and we returned to the living room, but when you saw the spot where your chair has been and it was empty, you started bawling again. Oh, lil' dude, you are so tenderhearted. Breaks Mama's own heart!

I can only assume you thought your chair was gone forever, a form of punishment for having what can only be classified as an accident. It was an accident, sweetheart, and we're not mad at you. You eventually took your book back, and went and sat in your chair's spot, looking forlorn, lost. There you sat until it was time for bed.

The good news is your chair will be back tonight when you get home, all fresh and clean and ready for your adventures. All your adventures including diapers, that is.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mama Loves ... Her Blog Readers!!

And the winner of Mama's fabulous birthday prize package is ...


Congratulations! To ShaeRae goes the spoils of a Starbucks gift card; Archer Farms trail mix; C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine; Aveeno Daily Moisturizing lotion; an Old Navy cuff bangle; Tazo tea in Zen, Passion, Awake, and Calm; Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush Lip Gloss in Sublime; Cover Girl Lip Slicks in Starlet; a package of bird stickers; Ziploc "100 calorie" size containers; Pond's Clean Sweep Moist Towelettes; and what is a Mama giveaway without some chocolate? A package of plain M&M's.

Hope you enjoy my favorite things, ShaeRae. If I could, I would also send you a 60-minute massage, a giant Chipotle burrito, a bouquet of white lilies, and all those cute, eccentric things my Grandma is forever saying!

Letter from Mama, v16

Happy 16-month birthday, lil' dude!

Honestly, I wrote 17 when I started that line. I don't know how I shorted you an entire month- on one hand, you change day to day and shorting you 30 days would be a drastic missive in my world. But on the other hand, mostly you seem like a kindergartner trapped in a toddler's body. So, it could go either way. But happy 16 months for sure!

This month you've said about 28 new words, got your first haircut, witnessed the removal of the baby gate, and celebrated March Madness with Daddy. The speed at which you pick up things is nothing short of incredible. How you now can grab your diaper and run to the changing table when you're wet. I hope that translates into early potty training. You opened the bathroom door last night just by turning the knob like real, big people do. You help feed the dog and clean up after him; we ask you where the remote/bird book/jacket is and you're offering it up to us 5 seconds later. You're a complete blur most the time. You want to help so badly- with anything Daddy or I do. Email. Laundry. Stir on the stove. Take things out of bags. Through this, I have found myself acting and thinking like you are much older than you are. We speak to you like adults speak to each other. We understand your every motive, all your intentions, and I feel like I am barely a step ahead of you on most of them.

There's a line from a book we both love, Olivia, and it goes;
"You know you really wear me out. But I love you anyway," the mama pig says.
"I love you anyway too," says Olivia.
It's the last page in the book and it always makes me smile. Reminds me of us.

There are moments, like earlier this week, where I can see the old you in the new you. I can see the baby lil' dude instead of the girl. I'll have you on the changing table and you'll be quiet, and relatively still. Then, you'll jerk your arms and legs, drawing them up against your warm body. Your eyes will fix on mine and all of a sudden you're the baby I brought home from the hospital, all silent and eyes and quickfire limbs. I'm left in those moments wondering if you are remembering too, when we whispered and swayed and fit together perfectly. Do you remember? Can you remember what it was like before you were the you now? Are you surprised by your own growth and movement and adaptation and stamina? The sheer force of your tiny will?

Soon, soon now, you'll be able to look at me and tell what it is you remember and what it is you feel each morning when your face rises to meet mine. How I'll ask you what the good part of your day was, and what the bad part of your day was and you won't even hesitate to speak, to fill my ears and world with more and more of you. Until there is so much of you we'll feel the same, until you can tell me your story instead of me always telling you your story.

The days, they are not far away. And believe me when I say I more excited than you can imagine.

Mama loves.

Monday, April 6, 2009


The Before:

Just your typical toddler mullet. Great for pigtails. Too bad the lil' dude finds her ponytail holders delicious and eats them therefore never having piggies in for more than 45 minutes.

The During:

Brrr. That water is COLD, Mama. Does this cape make my face look round?

Oh, I get it. This is FUN. People fawning over me and Daddy's undivided attention!? Stickers and bubbles and balloons?

I have this book at home, too! Look Daddy, it's Elmo!

The After:

The lil' dude's best haircut behavior earned her Chipotle ... where she delightfully munched on a cheese quesadilla, chips, rice, and green peppers. Her very first trip but surely not her last!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

A Birthday Giveaway

Today is my 29th birthday.
I just may be holding onto my '20's tighter than I am holding onto the lil' dude's babyhood ...

Anyways. I wanted to celebrate with all of you! And besides, like my Grandma S. always says, "be thankful for each day your feet hit the floor. The alternative is much worse."

Me, at three!

Leave me a comment and tell me your favorite birthday memory ever, and I'll pick one of my faithful readers to win a fabulous Mama prize package containing a few of my favorite things. Don't worry, these are Mama favorites, not necessarily motherhood items like pacifiers or burp rags or nipple guards, what have you. Trust me, you'll like what I have to offer!

I'll pick a random winner Tuesday, 4/7, at 7pm CST.

And, for giggles, my favorite birthday memory is that of my 24th birthday. The Dad threw me my one and only surprise party ever. And, I wore a cowboy hat. Happy birthday to me!

Friday, April 3, 2009

ABC's & 123's

All week long, we've had some new routines at the lil' dude's house.

Firstly, the lil' dude's Grandpa W. made her a stool for the bathroom. After her bath and pj's, she will stand on her stool, brushing her teeth, splashing in the sink, and drinking from a big girl cup until Mama closes down the fun. Tears ensue.

To distract her, I redirect to her bookshelf where I tell her to pick out the book we will read in the rocker. Up until now, the Dad or I have picked out the books to be read at goodnight. The lil' dude is delighted to no end with her new freedom. She scans the rows of books, her finger trailing along the spine of each book ... trailing and trailing until it rests on the two books she's wanted to read every night this week.


and this.

And these books are the best choice if I'm the one to re-read them over and over. I have yet to tire of them, their amazing simplicity and gorgeous art. After she received these books for her first birthday (WINK, FAIRY GODMOTHER, WINK) I fell in love with Charley Harper, and have stowed away memory games, a puzzle, and a tiny t-shirt all bearing his work for the lil' dude as she gets older.

The lil' dude, she's become quite the mimic-er. When we speak, she'll study our lips and try to emulate the same sound. Charley Harper books are great in that they're simple. A is for Ape. N is for Nest. Z is for Zebra. With each page we turn, the lil' dude quietly tries out the sound on her own tongue. Ape ... Nest ... Zebra. We make sure to go slow, so she can carefully point out all the things on the page which intrigue her. She's in love with Charley Harper.

When I was a kid, my all-time favorite book was Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories by Janice May Udry. Published in 1962, I can't even find the cover art online to post here. My grandma's best friend (and my mom's namesake) was a teacher, and every summer she would haul boxes of books to Grandma's for the kids and grandkids to use. I remember all those books, their musty, wonderful smells, and writing my name in pencil in the library card in the back. That's where my book came from. Together with my aunt R., my grandparents claim to have read Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories to me well over 200 times. More than five years or so ago, I went through every single book left at my grandparents' looking for Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories- my book was gone. I was so sad.

Then, I had a birthday, and tucked inside tissue paper from Grandma ... Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories, my original copy, complete with my name in the back. She had spotted it in a heap one day in the playroom and in a flash of nostalgia, grabbed it and put it away. Today it sits proudly displayed on our entertainment center with our wedding photos and other precious memories.

I haven't read Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories to the lil' dude yet. She'll have her own version someday ... maybe it'll be Charley Harper even then.