Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

At My House

It's perfectly normal to wear your new winter hat with your new winter jammies. And, it's also perfectly normal to get real sick of the camera and being asked sweetly to say cheese.

It's perfectly normal to not wear a frown for too long around here ... see what I mean?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Yesterday, Grandma G. and I took the lil' dude on an adventure. It was completely unplanned and spontaneous, as most of life's greatest adventures are.

It didn't disappoint.

We told the lil' dude we were going to an alpaca farm ... like llamas, but way cuter and softer.
On the ride there, she kept mooing, saying, "animals. Moo. Cow," and we tended to agree with her.

Grandma G. had an in with the farmhand, so we were able to get in the pen with the wild creatures.

The lil' dude ran free, saying, "run, chase!" and awing the alpacas and farmers with her unabashed sense of freedom and lack of trepidation.

This particular fella, a baby named Ozzie, was quite fond of the little blond lady running about his habitat. He couldn't stay away.

They didn't know if Ozzie's love would frighten the lil' dude, so precautions were taken to maintain the peace.

While the alpacas never gave a moo as the lil' dude predicted, she still had the time of her life making new, fuzzy friends.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How Many Licks Does it Take ...

To get to the center of her very first Tootsie Pop?
One ...
Two ...
Three ...
Four ...
THIS many!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Untold Story

It was Christmas Eve, 2007. The lil' dude was just over two weeks old.

The Dad and I dressed for the holiday church service. It was our first social outing as a family.
I straightened my hair, put on eyeliner, and high heels.
The Dad warmed up the truck for a good, long time.
I carefully selected the lil' dude's first Christmas dress ... she was so impossibly tiny, even the newborn sizes dwarfed her.

The lil' dude's first Christmas Eve.

Our church's capacity is near 600.
People were setting up folding chairs near the end of pews, and in the Narthex.
We chose a spot near the back of the church, I remember feeling so grown up when I whispered the order to my husband.
You know, in case she starts screaming?

My heart was near capacity as the last few weeks settled in around us.
Giving birth, finally. And to a daughter!
The whirlwind and revolving door our lives became as people flocked to meet our little girl.
The insane amount of gifts and goodwill.
Holding the Dad's hand under the covers in our bed at night, silent, and appreciative. We just looked at each other like co-conspirators in on the best gig ever.

The lights in the sanctuary dimmed. The service began.
On Christmas Eve, the Christmas Story is played out, complete with a manger, singing angels, and Wise Men riding in on camels. It's quite the performance. Everyone faces the altar, silent, transfixed.

My nostalgia turned my thoughts towards the rest of my family, not-so quietly celebrating Christmas as a pack of 50 in my grandparents' small Lutheran church, tucked behind the tall Pines and icy river. I felt sad, knowing I was missing all the traditions- and Grandma's ice cream roll. I pictured my parents' faces as they told everyone their Christmas story about a baby girl, their first grandchild. The photos handed out, the presents gathered for her. I wish I could have witnessed that from someplace private, just to see their faces and feel their excitement.

What I didn't know then, was Christmas 2007 would be the last my Grandpa R. would celebrate here on earth. I sat in the back of my church, gently swaying as my sleeping daughter lay on my chest, celebrating her first Christmas. The Christmas carols were sung, and "O, Holy Night" brought tears to my eyes as it always did.

And the Christmas Story is that of a miracle baby, whom no one thought would ever be born. Whom everyone rejoiced when he arrived, the world over. And nothing was ever the same after that day.

And the parallels were not lost on me.
The lil' dude and Daddy, Christmas Eve 2007

Friday, September 18, 2009

My Remembers

I love when you ...

Say bye-bye to everything.
And I mean everything.
"Bye-bye truck, bus, books (library), plane, juice, bath, toothbrush."

Say, "sun in my eyes," each morning when we drive to daycare, and turn by the bank so we're heading due east.

Request to give Eskimo Kisses to the Beagle as part of your bedtime routine.

See police cars and say "COPS!"

Get so excited when you find a stray snack left in your carseat.
Soggy Teddy Graham? Sticky fruit snack? You don't care. You devour it happily.

Say your colors; pink, buue, RED, geen, lellow.

Line things up so exact, I remind your father you have his bits of (delightfully sweet) OCD.

Feed me whatever you're having. "Mama, bite?"

Act sweetly to other children.

Want to hand the cashier the money, saying "thank you" when you get the change.

Let old ladies in cardigans fawn all over you as you sit in the cart, politely.

Get a little bit scared when watching the scary parts of Scooby-Do.

Can't start your day until you brush your teeth, just like Mama.

Drop everything to shake your booty to music.

Run, full speed, into my arms for a big one!

Mama loves all my remembers.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Day I've Been Waiting For

Last Friday evening, the Dad and lil' dude were in the bathroom together.
I get a "Wifey, come in here."
"Why? Do I want to?" I ask.
"Yes," the Dad says, "I think you'll cry."

And there she was, my little girl, draped in one of Mama's necklaces.
Smiling bigger than the sky.

Pretty! Lil' dude's pretty!

I couldn't have said it better myself.
Oh, my heart!

Monday, September 14, 2009

{Crickets}, {Crickets}, {Crickets}

That was the sound of silence last night as the Dad and I turned in.

You see, I unplugged the lil' dude's white noise machine, and shut down the baby monitor.


The more weekends I spend with my big little girl, the more I realize I can let go of some of her baby things.
Like, her bumpers. Highchair. Baby monitor.
And so on.

The white noise machine was a gift, and we've used it since the lil' dude was about 11 days old. It became part of our bedtime routine; these last few months the lil' dude punched the fat 'power' button on her own and said, noise.

And the baby monitor has sat on my night stand since a week or so before the lil' dude's arrival. It's become a permanent part of the bedside table landscape; alarm clock, reading lamp, lace doily that belonged to my great-grandma K., and Things I Want My Daughters to Know, by Alexandra Stoddard, and Charley Harper's Birds and Words, a framed picture of the Dad and I as babies, and the topper to our wedding cake.

As I reached for the lamp last night to welcome darkness, I instantly missed the glow and buzz from the monitor.


I wasn't the only one.

"I can't sleep," the Dad said.
"No?" I asked.
"I miss my babbling brook," he said, softly.

Because I confess. Even if the lil' dude was away for the night or week or what have you, we flipped on her noise machine and tuned in the baby monitor. So we could hear her noises and sleep her sleep.

It was a bold move on my part, this stowing away of the baby technology. But, her independence required it. There is no use in delaying the inevitable.
She'll still emit her noises and sleep her sleep, and I'll still know.
Because Mamas always do.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

An Important Message

The lil' dude is one lucky little girl.
Her grandparents are so important to her, and play a very large role in her life.
We are grateful & blessed ... today, and everyday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Cupcake Saturday

Because sometimes, it takes a container full of pink sprinkles on a kitchen floor to make me smile.

It reminds me that laughter trumps smudges on windows every time.
That pant-legs dragging in the dirt mean my little girl was outside ... her favorite place.
That finding a sippy cup with spoilt milk in the backseat means we were on an adventure, someplace together.

That ponytails which don't stay in means she's had the wind whipping through her hair.
That a once again demolished bookshelf means she was reading to herself, making my heart smile.
That a bathroom floor full of water means she was washing away a hard day's dirt, grime, and love.

That crusty booster seats and kitchen tables mean we were getting our bellies full and eating as a family.
That crayon on the linoleum means she was expressing herself freely.
That a house is only as dirty as a life is full.

And that makes me smile.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Inside Out

Something told me this little chickadee was not where she wanted to be.

As I caught her dreaming of other places.
Magical, beautiful, sweet, other places.

She proved it to me. She beg and pleaded with all her sweetness.

She took matters into her own hands.
It was time.

So outside we went, to flirt with fall, and have a final fling with summer.
We ran barefoot through the fresh-cut grass.
We ate strawberry popsicles.
And watched the planes overhead.
Saying hello plane and bye-bye plane as they left their fat, swirly trails against the blue sky.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Good night little girls,
Thank the Lord you are well
And now go to sleep,

From Madeline in London, by Ludwig Bemelmans, 1961

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Do Not Enter! No Boys Allowed! Go Away!

Can you find the lil' dude? Look closely!

With nothing but a three-day weekend stretched out before us, the lil' dude and I did some serious constructing over the weekend. We built her a fort.
With every spare sheet and blanket I own, and every baby and fuzzy pal she owns, we put together a nice cozy little spot under the dining room table. After my piece was done, she grabbed her purse, phone, baby accessories, and Beagle and hunkered down.

The idea came to me after thinking about what fun things I did with my little brother on weekends when we were younger. Fort was at the top of the list.

After seeing photos, my Mom commented, Hard to believe you could stand the fort mess though-such memories of coming home from work on weekends when Dad was parent-in-charge for the day. Could rarely get in the door.

I love the messy, spur-of-the-moment parenting ideas. Life is one big adventure. Why not have fun with it?

Here, the lil' dude eats her special fort lunch as the Beagle waits patiently for leftovers.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Letter from Mama, v21

You're 21 months old today, lil' dude!

And what a month you've had. We swapped out your crib bumpers for a real pillow. You wore princess Pull-Ups in lieu of diapers all weekend. We replaced your highchair at the dining room table with a booster seat. You furthered your communication skills, and you're getting in touch with your emotions. You love to tell me who is sad- the boy on TV, the Beagle, the bear in the storybook. Sometimes, out of nowhere, you'll proclaim it yourself. Lil' Dude, sad.

You also eased the word don't into your vocabulary- much to Daddy's and my chagrin. We remind you gently with each turn to be polite, but your stubborn streak is having an issue handling that. You insist on putting your own shoes on, putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, and meeting the Beagle at the sliding door to let him back in. Heaven forbid anyone help you. I know it's just a phase, and we embrace this challenge with the rest. I love watching your brow furrow in concentration. Such a big girl.

I was digging through some of my childhood boxes this afternoon while you slept. I found a particular, sweet baby doll -I bought with my own money!- and when you woke up, I offered him to you. Wow, you breathed, new baby. You gingerly put him to your shoulder and began your sshing and patting. You're a tiny mommy girl, and it warms my heart to see these traits in you. Have I ever mentioned how much I love having a daughter? Because I really do.

You still sleep in your crib.
You still let me read to you each night.
You still let me wash your hair in the tub.
You still make me laugh when you look me in the eye and talk to me for 45 seconds straight.

You now whisper to me, when you have something very urgent to share.
You now request Eskimo Kisses.
You now help me put your barrettes in.
You, right now, are wrestling on the floor with Daddy.
Looks like I have better things to do!

Shine like the sun, baby girl.
Mama loves.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Dear Daughter:
As your Mother I find it in my responsibility to empower you to make your own decisions.
I also find it within my responsibilities to point out your bad decisions.

Let's take for instance the matter of your beloved NaNa, the apple of your eye, the ying to your yang, the coffee in your cream. Your blanket.

Me being the blanket girl I am, was set on creating offspring who were blanket people. There was just no way around it from my perspective. I think from those first few moments I felt you flutter deep inside, I had blanket on the brain. I wanted to be the bearer of your blanket, to present you with life's greatest gift.

And when I found what my mind's eye was envisioning, I handpicked you a deep, rich, chocolate brown blanket for three reasons:

1. It matched your nursery
2. I heart the color brown
3. It would camouflage life's daily dirt

But no, you defiant little twerp, you chose to fall in love with your NaNa by your own volition. And you chose a light pink version for your BFF. Light pink! It has your name on it, and pretty cream colored polka dots. I adored swaddling you in its pure layers of baby goodness way back when. But alas, you're my little Linus and where there's Lil' Dude, there's NaNa.

And, MERCY me. The dirt. The blackberry stains. The garden foliage. The grease from the truck hinges. The Cheetos prints. The black Beagle fur. The grass stains. The crusties from your sad tears and snotty nose. The gray grime of daily love.

I have to employ every secret military tactic and Kung-Foo move known to man to get this thing in the wash machine without you noticing. If you bust me, you wail pathetically in the laundry room repeating, NO, NaNa wet. No NaNa, WET!

And so I prop you up on the washer, dry your tears and remind you that this is your fault, that you made this decision.
Because that's what Mamas do!
But, Mama loves.
You and that stinky NaNa, too.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


We sat down to dinner last night- homemade mac 'n' cheese with bacon for you and Daddy, cucumber sticks with ranch, and a BLT for Mama.
As we began eating, your face crumpled up into a scowl, as you looked from plate to plate.

Bread? You asked.
So I gave you a piece of dry wheat bread.
And, you devoured it right up.
Bread. Yum!

You know, your great-Grandpa R. was a bread eater. That guy, he ate bread with every meal.
Even with pizza, tacos ... I think even with sandwiches.

So thanks for the memory last night.
It was sweet.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009