Friday, July 30, 2010

The Big Question

The lil' dude and I read this book together this week after she picked it out from the library.


It instantly became my favorite children's book ever. Which is saying a lot.

The book, by French author Wolf Erlbruch, answers the unasked question by offering pages of sweet, simple illustrations of different perspectives of life. The forward reads:

The cat, the baker, and grandma
A sailor, a stone, a duck,
Others later, and at the end of the book, 
All give their answers
To the big question.
But who is asking?
A child, more than likely.
Growing up,
Each of us
Will find new answers.

So when, if ever, I get the question from my daughter, Mama, why am I here? I can tell her without hesitation.

Your brother says: "You're here on earth to celebrate your birthday, of course."

"Well, you came into the world to purr. And a little for the mice, too," says the cat.

The pilot says: "You're here to kiss the clouds."

And grandmamma: "Why, it's clear as day, so that I can spoil you."

The bird: "To sing your song."

The enormous man: "To eat well. That's why."

The number three: "So that one day you'll be able to count to three."

The soldier: "You are here to obey."

The dog: "I believe we're here on earth in order to bark. And sometimes also to howl at the moon."

The sailor: "To sail the seven seas."

Death: "You are here to love life."

The stone: "You're here simply to be here."

Daddy: "You're here because your mother and I love one another."

The gardener: "So that you learn patience."

The blind man: "To trust."

The baker: "You're here to get up early in the morning."

The duck: "I don't have the foggiest idea."

Your sister says: "And you're also here to love yourself."

The rabbit: "You're here to be caressed."

The boxer: "To step into the ring."

And mommy: "You're here because I love you."

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Your growth spurts as an infant were marked by an increased volume of sleep. I thought it was an old wives' tale, but it's true. Weeks you required a third nap or pushed your bedtime up by an hour, I knew your little body was busy growing.

But now as a toddler-girl, I miss the signs of growth until they smack me in the face. This week, after I had spent seven days away from you, just then you have grown. You refuse to sit in your booster chair at the dinner table. You no longer wear a bib. You have no patience for sippy cups. And, you clear your own dishes.

Last night you yelled to me from upstairs, Mom I have something to tell you! I was startled by the words and the urgency. Certainly, someone else in my home was speaking to me from far away. How could it possibly be you?

Mom, I have something to tell you. The Beagle has a bug bite on his knee.

You vacillate between baby and girl more than ever. In the evenings after bathtime, you request being swaddled like a baby and carried to your bed for pajama time. It's the same every night. You give me the fake "wah-wah" cry you use when you mother your dolls. You suck your thumb, and ask for your bottle. So, I talk to you in a babying voice, calling you my baby, and swaying you back and forth. It's enough for me, and right now, it's all I need.

You can spend the rest of the day being my girl.
Thanks for still being my baby.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Daddy has always been just one big kid. The way he loves animated movies and candy and sleeping in.
Sounds like someone else I know ...

Daddy remembers when he was little collecting sports sticker books. He'd buy one sticker book and the hundreds of packs of stickers that went with ... so he could complete page after page. So this summer, you two have had a project.

I never know who is more excited for new packs of stickers.

You carefully hand him each one to peel and place- while identifying the character on each and every sticker.

I can hear you saying double, that's a double, another double and those keep adding up. Filling all 100+ stickers in your book just might be your Holy Grail.

At least you have a good hunting partner.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Good Things

You're on day five of your second vacation of the summer, lil' dude. This time, you've spent the week in Daddy's hometown with Grandpa T. and Grandma S. The reports from Camp Grandma have been nothing but good, and they make me jealous to hear all the fun you're having. Trips to the park, swimming at the pool where Daddy life-guarded, forts in the dining room, ice cream before bed, playing with your cousins and buddies, visiting your great-aunties, McDonald lunches, and most importantly, love, love, love.

Family means everything to us, and we're so grateful to have the people in our lives love you as much as we do. You make so many people proud- in how polite you are, how big your vocabulary is, how you're totally unafraid of sleeping in big beds.

It's simple. Flowers just grow best in the brightest sun and richest soil.

I hear you're going to the zoo today- it's the same zoo me and your Uncle W. grew up going to. I told Grandma S. this morning feeding the seals was always my favorite part.

She said she'll make sure you feed the seals.

Have fun, little girl.

Mama loves ... see you in two days!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What Godfathers Are Good For

Godfathers are good for spending entire Sunday afternoons with you.
Setting up castles and forts in closets.
Reading to you.
Adorning you with as many stickers as you want.
Following you around the yard.
Watching you while you swim.
Letting you eat what you wish right off their plates.

Godfathers are good for unending surprises.
Of the large scale variety.
Making all your Toy Story dreams come true.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I was rifling through old files at work yesterday when I came across a document that was hand-signed and dated on:

12/7/07 at 8:30am, CST

At that point in history, I was curled on my left side in the hospital, delightfully sleeping through my second epidural.

Only four hours away from meeting my daughter for the first time.

What a sweet little memory.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Each spring, I buy a Zebrina Wandering Jew for my front porch. It's the same variety I've bought every year. Native to southern Mexico, I can't really describe why I love this plant, but I do. There is only one greenhouse in the vicinity that carries this species, and each year it's a gamble if I'll find one, or if I'm lucky, two.

Maybe I love this plant because it's effortless to be its master. Perfect in the sun and wind, it requires semi-regular watering and that's it. But maybe, I love this plant because of what it means to something, someone else:

I've noticed some activity recently on the front porch of the two-winged variety and sure enough, the Dad pointed out a tidy little nest perched within the center of my plant. We've had bird nests before; Robins build one each year in the same spot under the deck. One summer, I had a Million Bells plant on the porch and birds infiltrated that, and I felt too bad to water it, and it died. The birds, however, hatched, thrived, and flew away. I think I made the right choice.

But this time it's different. I know the Wandering Jew will survive just as its avian tenants will ... all that living, right on my front porch.

I heart life.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Can't Forget

I use this blog as vehicle for memories to always make their way back to me. I should then not forget to highlight two of the biggest things the lil' dude has accomplished/undertaken/inherited/began this summer.

She now says, huh? after every single thing we say to her, or ask of her. Even when she has clearly heard us the first time. This has forced me to train myself to not repeat myself, but to give her 10 seconds to respond. This particular act immediately brings me back to my childhood/teen years as I dealt with my little brother who was notorious for saying, huh? after I told him or asked him something. Why'd you say what if you heard me? How did you answer me if you didn't hear me? I remember those conversations well.

And secondly, my daughter has learned how to pick her nose. The first few weeks so was so cavalier with it. By now, the appeal of of boogers is gently wearing off, but STILL. I think I've trained her enough to ask for a Kleenex and some privacy to deal with what she needs to deal with, but STILL. Stages are stages and toddlers are toddlers, but I sure hoped she'd skip this one.

I joked there for awhile that her new skills ... saying huh? 894 times a day AND picking her nose made her a huge hit at parties!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Into the Wild

Because all my vacation memories as a child involve a tent, canoe, or Taurus station wagon, camping and nature are high priorities for me as an adult. In what is now the lil' dude's third summer, we have camped three years in a row, but this year was the first time alone as a family.

We bought a brand-new tent for this adventure, a big improvement on the square four-man tent we've used in the past because Mama + lil' dude in the middle, sleeping at an angle + Daddy + Beagle at the bottom, sleeping at an angle = bad camping math, in my opinion! Besides, I told the Dad, the purchase was warranted because every child loves playing in the tent the most, I wanted her to have the room she needed to create the space of her imagination.

We could have done without the raging thunderstorm Saturday night, which held the threat of flash floods, tornadoes, giant hail, 60mph winds, and overall treachery ... but that's part of the memory, anyways. As we huddled with various other campers in the dark, powerless men's bathroom, the lil' dude plastered to my chest, wrapped in NaNa and sleeping soundly ... I really, really felt like a Mom. It's like saying you'd run through fire for your child; well, I sat on a toilet in the dark, in the men's bathroom of a public campground ... for my child. You get the picture. The little girl's bravery and curiosity never wavered once she woke up, and she won the hearts of everyone around her, per usual.

When we figured the worst was beyond us, we ventured back to our tent, still intact, my nerves calming down. As we readied our girl for bed once again, she inquired about her plastic bugs, toys she thought she left in the rain. Where are my bugs? Are they OK? was all she wanted to know before we shut off the lantern. While I assured her they were tucked away safely in the truck, she had one more message before sleep:

Mama, don't be afraid of the rain.
It's OK

I won't baby girl, I'll never be afraid of the rain again.

Friday, July 9, 2010


The first few nights of your life, you slept like the average newborn does: not so much.
On the fifth night ... on the fifth night you slept like the average college student does: all the time.

Coupled with good genes and the ultimate sleeping ensemble, you were dressed in a onesie, sleeping gown, fuzzy sleep sack, socks up to your knees, mittens, a hat, and two swaddling blankets. Back then, you craved the heat. The hotter, the better. When you'd fall asleep on Daddy's chest and snooze for hours, both of you would end up drenched; the hair on the back of your head sopping wet with sweet little baby sweat.

You're warm-blooded, to say the least.

Even now, with the AC on, a fan blowing on you, a thin sheet covering you, and summer pj's on, you fall asleep and you're sweaty within minutes. When I wake you one last time to go potty at night, I cautiously do the hand creep under your covers to see if you've had an accident ... you haven't.

You're just lying in a pile of your own sweat!

But don't worry, it's like Lou Holtz said, 'no one has ever drowned in sweat'.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Letter from Mama, v31

As I was falling asleep last night, I was thinking about your birthday party, which is only five months away. I don't even have to say how unfathomable it is that by Christmas, I'll have a three year old. I don't have to say that, because everyone knows. By then, you'll be old enough for solo swimming lessons, preschool, and Sunday School at church. Up until this very point in your life, you've exerted a strong sense of independence and will. You've always wanted to do things by yourself and on your own. Lately, I've been witnessing some regression on your part though; you're asking for more and more help regarding the things you've always done for yourself. Feeding yourself, getting dressed, getting up and down from chairs, bringing toys out from your room. I remind you that while yes, you can do these things for yourself, there is no harm in asking someone for help. I want you to be enabled to do everything for yourself, and on your own terms, as well as ask for and appreciate help as warranted. It's a fine line you'll learn to walk.

You remain the bright, sunny child you've always been. You have all your teeth now, even those last four molars that wreaked havoc on you. We're three weeks on this side of potty training, and you'll be wearing underwear for the rest of your life. Your bangs are long enough to tuck behind your ears, finally eliminating the need for a barrette or hair clip. You've been 29 pounds for months, but all your jeans from winter and spring are too short. You still thrive under structure and routine, you still hop in bed each night without a fuss, and stay there until I have to coax your warm, fuzzy body from sleep each morning. You're still the light that shines on both Daddy and I, day after day. You're the same baby we brought home from the hospital, all eyes and calm and the greatest blessing bestowed upon your people.

Shine like the sun, little girl.
Mama loves.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Misery Loves Company

Oh, lil' dude. Bless you and your empathetic little heart yet again.

The Beagle is notorious for his sensitive ears. He hates loud noises- sirens, guns, thunder, motorcycles, tornado warnings, firecrackers, smoke detectors, shampoo dropped in the shower ... he's very sensitive to noise.

Especially fireworks.

There was that one time, last year, where he accidentally stayed outside during the fireworks display in our town, and he ran away for 12 hours. That was a bad time. This year, we knew better.

Daddy secured the poor fella in the basement while partygoers like you and I reveled in the beautiful display from our front lawn. The Beagle hid, cowered, drooled, shook, and prayed for August.

You, on the other hand, enjoyed all of 60 seconds of the display in my lap before you were hollerin' for your daddy and to get inside away from the fireworks as well. You then felt much, much better about your new perch to view the show from behind two panes of glass.

It's OK if you only went in because you felt bad for the Beagle.
I know he appreciates your empathy.
I watched enough to tell you both what you missed.
And Daddy spent his birthday eve doing what he does best: loving and calming his people.

It all worked out in the end.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

This Guy

Wishing the man in our lives a very happy birthday today ...
We love you to pieces!

Lil' dude, the Beagle, and Mama loves.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Three years ago, we dug a hole in the ground and held our breath.
Summer after summer, the green sprouted new, and we watered, waited, and wondered.
And three years later, our crop is yielding.

Luscious, luscious raspberries.

The bushes came from the lil' dude's bestie E.'s daddy. He's got himself a mean green thumb.
Every night when the lil' dude runs to the fence for her berry fix, I tell her the story of how these raspberry bushes came to be.

I love explaining to my daughter what a little time, love, and patience will provide. Some good dirt, hot sun, and luck is all you need to grow your own food!

What a sweet little lesson.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July, Baby!

Our month to party and celebrate is finally here!
We have Daddy's birthday on the 4th of July.
First-ever family camping the weekend after.
A week at Grandpa T.'s and Grandma S.'s.
A few weekends at home doing what we do best- nothing and everything at the same time.

I love this time of year, and love that you're here and big enough to enjoy it with us!