Friday, December 31, 2010


Winter often gets a bad rap, dismissed as long, miserable, dismal, abusive, and unbearable.

There are a lot of things in life that are labeled as such, but deserve another look, and a little more attention.

On Monday, we packed up from Christmas in the Dad's hometown, and the lil' dude gazed up at the sky.

Mama, someone painted the trees!

She's incredibly astute for a three-footer.

There's no denying the beauty. The entire trip home looked like this. It was calm and peaceful and was the perfect backdrop to a huge life lesson for the week.

Some people see ice, cold, and severity.
Some see paint, applied with precision and grace.

I know my 2011 is going to be covered in paint.

Happy New Year!

Mama loves.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

On Boys

I like to think of myself as a progressive parent who's teaching her daughter to grow up as an independent, self-sufficient woman. That she can do things by and for herself without someone mandating it.
That she never needs a boy to do anything for her.

Well, when I dropped the lil' dude off at daycare one morning this week, I softened just a little as G., a little boy who's six months younger than the lil' dude, ran to the gate at the top of the steps to greet his friend.

He was bearing her Dora Nana, and her stuffed Clifford, her two daycare loveys.

"Lil' dude, I got your things for you!" He hollered, his entire face one big grin, his arms thrust way out in front of him.

My daughter ran to meet him, and to claim her belongings.

"Honey, thank G. for getting your things for you. That was sweet," I told her.

And I meant it. Girls may never need boys to do things for them, but it sure is great when they do.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Gift

This year, we were fortunate to celebrate five Christmases ... yes, five. The entire month of December in our family is spent gifting each other, opening presents, being grateful, courteous, and remembering the reasons that accompany everything.

Last year, at just over two, you struggled ... as most small children in the same setting are prone to do. You were overwhelmed by Christmastime, and in fact shouted one of my favorite quotes from you yet: I don't like presents. That was cue enough you needed a nap and a break, and we obliged you.

This year, as December began, I wondered how my three-year-old would manage this year's bustle.

At your birthday party, after you opened the giant heap of gifts, you thanked the entire room for their presents, and presence, by telling everyone, You can all go home now! That made the room laugh and your Mama's cheeks very red.

At your first Christmas, at Papa and Grandma G's, you exclaimed Are you kidding me!? every time you opened a gift. It's exactly what a three year old should say at Christmas.

And, on Christmas day, with your Grandpa T. and Grandma S. and Godfather all in a room filled to the top with presents, we explained that everyone had to take turns opening their gifts, so we could take our time and show each other what we received. The goal was to go slow, and be grateful.

And you, my sweet girl, in your traditional Christmas taffeta and tights, were a shining example of graciousness and wonder. For four hours we opened gifts and took pictures and laughed, and unwound your toys from insane packaging and if you're Daddy or Uncle D., guessed what every wrapped box held. It was one of my favorite Christmases yet. I was so proud to be your Mama, as you sat in the big chair with your next intended gift already in your lap. Your turn! you'd tell us all, helping us with bows and tags and corralling the paper as needed.

Being a parent means at every turn, not imaging life ever getting better than it already is ... and delighting when it does.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010


All you really wanted for Christmas this year was a pink fridge. I told Santa months ago what you wanted ... and crossed Christmas off my list before the snow even fell. I should have known tiny, determined little you would have something to say about that.

When the holiday catalogues started rolling in, you called dibs on each and every one. You literally spent hours poring over each glossy mag, and fell in love with kitchens- especially a wooden set of pink appliances.

I need that. I want that in my closet. Santa will come and he will drop it for me!

So this Mama did what she had to do ... she appealed to the Santa of the North, and put in a request at Papa's winter wonderland wood-shop.

Let's just say we all believe in the magic of the holiday season this year.
We saw complete Christmas joy through your eyes.

Merry Christmas, lil' dude! Thank you for being unwavering in your belief that good things come to those who wait. It's truly a lesson we can all learn from.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

::Dear Santa::

Photo credit

::Dear Santa::

This year for {CHRISTMAS} I would VERY much enjoy these items;

~ a refrigerator, a {PINK} one with doors and shelves
~ food for my {PINK} refrigerator
~ cups for my {PINK} refrigerator
~ snacks
~ Goldfish crackers my {FAVE} food
~ more, {NEW} books
~ more shelves for my {NEW} books

Also ... ::please bring my Daddy a championship or two::
And, my Mama some ::patience & {FREE} coffee days::
and ... for the ::Beagle {ALL} the fleece he can chew through and {SUN} patches on the carpet for lounging::

Thank you {SANTA}
I have been real good ... I try to say ::PLEASE:: before I ask for things.
And, I give good hugs and have a great {MEMORY}.

Love, marshmallows, Reindeer kisses, & flurries,

:: the {LIL' DUDE} ::


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Inappropriate Loved Song

You're just like your Mama- you love music. Recently, when we drive, you request the music to be louder! It makes me smile- we totally jam some days.

And, you've officially established your first-ever favorite song.

It's Rihanna's What's My Name in all its inappropriate glory.

Photo credit

The opening lyrics are what piqued your attention:

Ooh na na, what’s my name
Ooh na na, what’s my name
Ooh na na, what’s my name
Ooh na na, what’s my name
Ooh na na, what’s my name
What's my name, what's my name

Because, of course, your blanket's name is NaNa, so you hearing that sung out loud on the radio makes you crazy!

If you had it your way, the song would play on repeat for the first 20 seconds, over and over.

Play NaNa, what's my name, Mama! Louder!

And I catch you singing to yourself all the time, too.

Just like your bestie Big T's favorite song, Dynamite, by Taio Cruz, you have some great taste in tunes, babe! Here's to all the dance parties our booties can tolerate.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Photo courtesy the lovely & talented Auntie Mo!

Friday, December 10, 2010


Meeting his first grandchild, 12/7/07, love at first sight!

I would like to wish my Dad- the lil' dude's Papa, a very special 50th birthday today!
To the man who loves logical thinking, the woods, his animals, wine, music, and books ... happy birthday, we love you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Portrait of Life: 3

Happy, happy 3rd birthday to you, Miss Lil' Dude!

Your birthday is finally here. You've been waiting and asking for weeks when your party would happen, when everyone would sing to you as you blew out your candles, how you wouldn't be shy in the spotlight. And you weren't. You were the most perfect little host ... and after you finished opening your mountain of gifts, you thanked everyone and told them they could all go home. That garnered many laughs. May you always be so practical and honest.

Again, we were positively overwhelmed with love and goodwill from your village. You are one very lucky and loved little girl. I hope you are always surrounded by people who cast you in the best light, and that you do the same for them. Relationships are what sustain us throughout life. Cherish them.

I emailed your aunties last night with a play-by-play of how we had spent your birthday together thus far and semi-jokingly told them I hadn't cried yet. I know, I know. I am hypersensitive. Daddy makes fun of me for my soft heart all the time. (Like he should talk!) I remember consoling your bestie E's mama when she turned three in October ... that there is no reason to lament this birthday. That we should be grateful in the day as we celebrate how big, smart, healthy, happy, and gracious our daughters are. That we should celebrate the anniversary of motherhood with anything but tears. True, it's easier said than done, but I managed to stay dry all day today. Even as you sat in my lap and we revisited your Birth Day photos from the hospital. What's that on my belly button? Uncle D. was there? I wore diapers. I had a hat on. That was my carseat. I remember everything from that day ... everything. It's tattooed on my heart.

Your auntie B. is preparing to become a first time Mama in a few weeks.

She mentioned in an email yesterday, "I love all things Christmas-related right now. I think it is an awesome time to have a baby. God thought so, too. Hah."

And I think she nailed it. December is beautiful. Everything is white- serene and sparkling. People make more room in their hearts for each other. Tradition is upheld. Miracles happen, and everyone wishes upon a star. I have always loved December, as I grew up celebrating all month long- Papa's birthday, great-auntie R.'s birthday, and Uncle W.'s birthday. You fit right into this fabulous month. December 7 was an awesome time to have a baby, and it will always be an awesome time to celebrate your life, one year at a time. We're so lucky today, and always.

Happy birthday, sweet girl.
Mama loves.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The End

Tomorrow when she wakes up, she'll be three.

Three years old.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

On Four Legs

Our favorite photographer, the lovely & talented Auntie Mo. captured our family again this fall for holiday photos and the lil' dude's 3 year shots. It's fun to replace last year's framed pictures with the new ones, to marvel at what has changed over the past year.

And to revel in what hasn't.

The Beagle is still the apple of our daughter's eye ... her very best friend in the whole wide world.
The feeling is mutual. The dog doesn't even try to hide it anymore. Currently, the girl is snoozing in her bed, with the door shut tightly. The Beagle is just on the other side, stretched out in front of the barricade, biding his time until she wakes for the day.

This was last year. He has always been so patient and sweet with her. She now calls him Brown Dog, just like her Mama does.

I am tickled they share this relationship- that she hasn't known this home sans dog, ever. He's always been a part of her life just as her humans have. In my opinion, it's the way it should be. After all, I have been a lifelong dog person my self.

I grew up with a tiny mutt of a house dog at my grandparents', named Uffda. Yes, we're a very Norwegian family!

This was my childhood dog. She joined our family when I was 6. My brother was a baby. I named her Dolby, after Dolby Surround Sound, something I had seen on my aunt's stereo. True story. She lived to be 17 ... I was 23 when she died. That was my entire childhood, and then some. She was a mutt we got for free- in fact, she came with a rebate of sorts- some cash intended to buy her first bag of dog food! I will never, ever forget her, or how she helped form me into who I am today.

I'm grateful to see this in my daughter's life, too.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter Tradition

Last weekend we embarked on our annual family tradition of cutting our own Christmas tree, and decorating the house for two straight days post! You were a big help this year, and we actually had snow so it was perfect. You haven't missed as year at the tree farm, not even the year I was pregnant when the nice tree farm man asked as I trudged my 40-week belly over the river and through the woods if I wanted a ride on the sleigh. "No, thanks. It's late, and I am trying to walk It out." Didn't work! But, a fun memory nonetheless.

You kept pointing to and hugging the trees that were your size and smaller. This one! I want this one!

It takes me awhile to find The One. You were patient and sweet anyways.

Then came the very best part of your day! The Clydesdale-drawn sleigh ride. These guys, Rocky and Rusty, were gorgeous! You spent a good 10 minutes just petting their faces and talking sweet to them.

Right then, the sleigh's driver asked you if you wanted to sit on one of them ... you were so excited! The smile didn't leave your face until your turn was over. You're still talking about the horses and sleigh ride all these days later. I love creating lasting memories with you, lil' dude.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Leaving the Light On

Toward the end of the summer, I started a part-time job a few evenings a week.
A few evenings a week that take me away from home ... from Daddy, the Beagle, and you.

On top of working full-time already.
I did it for a million reasons ... you're a big one!

It's been a few months, and we've found a groove with the change in our routine. You're thriving ... watching a little too much basketball, in my opinion ... but that's to be expected in the House of Hoops! You've always been a Daddy's girl.

Who looks out for her Mama.

Last night, as Daddy readied you for bed, you turned on the entryway light ... for me.

Photo credit

All by yourself. You remembered to remember me, when I come home in the dark.

I am so lucky to have your light shining in my life, little girl.
Thanks for leaving the light on for me.

Mama loves.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ugly Monster

For Halloween, you were gifted an 'Ugly Doll', a delightful monster-type stuffed pal that is way more cute than ugly. The way you're obsessed with monsters in Scooby, and in movies, your Grandma G. thought you needed this guy in your life.

And, in your true resourceful nature, you've found the perfect use for your Ugly Doll, which you refer to as your monster pillow:

Sweet dreams, my little monster-lovin' girlie!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What You Have

Happy Thanksgiving, village. I hope your days are spent with your favorite people, doing your favorite things.

This year ... the lil' dude is thankful for: (these are true answers)
- eyeballs
- the Beagle
- Daddy
- Mama
- all grandparents
- NaNa
- and, all her littles & besties

Mama is thankful for:
- her besties
- their wine
- scarves
- old recipes
- free time
- spending the holidays with her favorite 79-year old, ever. Grandma!
- her healthy little family

The Dad is thankful for: (again, true answers)
- his family
- health
- the 316 (house/life)
- jobs
- his daughter being a Timberwolves & 'Cuse fan, who can identify players
- friends
- getting the Christmas lights on the house before the ice & snow arrived

And, the Beagle is thankful for:
- long weekends
- the lil' dude's dropsies on the kitchen floor
- his bed
- his doghouse
- leftovers
- the woods
- pig ears

To our family from yours- happy grateful to be day!

"Appreciate what you have." ~ Warren Brokering

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010


It's the time of year when Mama's brain starts working overtime thinking of all the holiday and birthday love to organize and prepare. It's easy to say from Thanksgiving week through Christmas, I will not fully sleep at night, as I prepare for the madness and wonderfulness that is this time of year!

I am most excited about my little helper this year, who actually possesses the desire and ability to help her crazy Mama with projects. We started last night by hand-making Christmas labels. I had been saving all my Starbucks sleeves to repurpose into gift tags. They turned out adorable ... great coffee + recycling = holiday happiness!

But what turned out better, was the experience I had with my daughter by my side.
My daughter who keeps asking if TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY YET?
So yeah, it appears I passed on my crazy celebration gene ... just a little!

Friday, November 19, 2010


You're my winter baby. In the moments just preceding your entrance into this world, your Grandma G. had two giant gift bags in the entryway to grab on her and Papa's trip to see your face for the first time. One bag was blue, and the other one, the one you received, was pink.

The bag was a sweet explosion of pink and femininity- handmade quilts and afghans, dresses, boots with the fur, books, photo albums, leggings, and the tiniest, sweetest winter hat and pair of baby mittens I'd ever seen. These baby gifts were items she had been collecting for years and years, waiting for the just right moment when she finally had a You to gift.

You wore the hat until it was too small. Here's you on New Year's Eve, 2007, as you attended your first party. I looked and I looked for a photo of you wearing the tiny mittens, which matched the hat perfectly, and were strung together. But, no picture exists, because you did NOT like mittens when you were three weeks old. I would flip back the fleece cover of your carseat and find your tiny pink hands had once again escaped the confines of your soft, sweet mittens. You always have been a determined little human.

And now, three years later, not much has changed. Your mittens are bigger of course, and no longer are strung together by a tethering piece of yarn. Yet, you still do not care for them. We fight this battle everyday. Last weekend, when we played outside, I found you in the backyard, your pink hands bare against the cold and wet snow, and your mittens, abandoned here on the deck stairs.

'Lil' dude, you have to wear your mittens outside," I said.
No Mama. It's too hard for me. I can't use my hands when I wear them things.

How come so much has changed, yet, nothing really has?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Man & the Garbage

We've never let you bring your NaNa to daycare, and as you grew bigger and bigger, this was something you just accepted. You could bring it with you on the way in, but once we reached the driveway, you would bury your face in your pink blanket and give the biggest inhale ever, as if its scent would carry you through the day until you could be reunited.

It didn't take you long to adopt a blanket at daycare that acted like your pseudo-NaNa. Pink in color and emblazoned with Dora, your Daycare NaNa did its trick to comfort, pacify, and occupy you.

One day last week, you told Daddy your Dora NaNa was missing. That a man put it in the garbage. He didn't put a lot of stock into your story, because let's be honest, your imagination is epic. As the week wore on, we learned Dora was in fact missing, and you were insistent it was gone.

A few days later, I received an email from your beloved Daycare Lady with this photo, and this note:

"I found it!!!!!
And it was not in the garbage. And the lil' dude sure knows she is loved because I ripped the house apart the last three days looking for it. With her on my tail."

And all is right with the world again!

Thanks Daycare Lady ... you're our super heroine in a pink cape and mask!

Monday, November 15, 2010


A few mornings ago, you and I were getting ready together in the bathroom. You saw me curling my hair, and asked what I was doing.

"Curling my hair. Does it look nice?" I asked.

NO! you shouted emphatically. I heard the Dad start to snicker from the bedroom.

But before I could speak to the insensitivity of what you said, you added, It looks beeeeeeeeeeaaaaaauuuuuuuutifuuuuuul! drawing out each sweet syllable.

You're lucky I didn't have mascara on yet.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

First Snowfall

On the very first snowfall of the season ...

There was a girl ...
Who donned her boots, hats, and mittens ...

For some snowman-making magic ...

There was a dog ...
Who never leaves the girl's side ...

And when the girl introduced the dog ...

To her snowman ...

The very first snowfall of the season ...
Was forever marred.

Friday, November 12, 2010


Five years ago today, I became a wife.

His wife.

When I was younger, and single, I never knew what people meant when they said they love their spouse more today than they did the day they married them. For me, hearing that, made me feel bad for those people, like I felt like they were getting slighted in their marriages. How can you not absolutely love your spouse 100% on your wedding day?

Until, that is, I got married, and lived the years in my marriage.

There's no way to prepare yourself for this. Wedding days are only a down-payment of the love and commitment you'll put toward your life together. It's the smallest, smallest, fraction of what you'll be as the long days and quick years stack up. It's the biggest act of blind faith you'll ever commit.

And if you're lucky, as lucky as I am ... you'll have taken that flying leap of faith and promised commitment with someone like I have.

Someone who no matter what the circumstance, says, "we'll figure it out. We'll get through it. We'll prepare for it. We'll manage it," so there is no doubt in your mind that you'll ever be alone.

Someone whose emails and texts that say, "God, I love you," unglue you. The love contained. The passion.

Someone who knows you better than you know yourself, but doesn't gloat about it. The silent strength.

Someone like my husband.

Five years ago, we got married in front of 268 of our family and friends. We boarded a plane for Maui two days later, still punch-drunk on newlywed love and exhaustion. We talked about five years from then, how we would return to the land of sun, Mai Tais, and never-ending ocean.

Except, we're not returning. Not this year, not yet.
And you know what? That does not matter.
I'd spend our anniversary at a Super 8 in Wahpeton, North Dakota, if it meant spending it with you.

Instead, we're heading to a sweet, quiet town on the river between our state and the next.
Just the two of us.

Me, more in love with you, than the day I married you.

Wifey loves.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Definition of VETERAN

a : an old soldier of long service
b : a former member of the armed forces
: a person of long experience usually in some occupation or skill (as politics or the arts)
— veteran adjective

A post I wrote on Memorial Day, in 2009:

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.