Monday, November 30, 2009

A Girl in the Pines

"Teaching children about the natural world should be seen as one of the most important events in their lives." -Thomas Berry

When my brother and I were kids, the vacations we took were the ones we could reach in the silver Ford Taurus wagon. We saw the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, the Corn Palace, The Mississippi Headwaters, Wisconsin Dells, The Rocky Mountains, Wall Drug, Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. In other words, we were typical Midwesterners. Of any of these memories, the BWCA family camping trips stick out in my mind as the best. My Dad encouraged both of us to keep journals- I couldn't have been more than seven years old when I began writing in my cloth-bound book, citing such events as, "saw big moose turds, a bald eagle, and ate pancakes for supper," but the act of observing and writing nature around us was so simple and inspiring. On those trips- there was no electricity. No TV, phones, handheld gaming devices, elaborate toys. It was kid, dirt, water, rocks, sunshine. I'm grateful for that influence in my life- and today, as a mother myself, I am fully appreciating what my Dad encouraged in me all those years ago.

Friday afternoon we packed up the lil' dude and dog and headed for the woods- to the 80 acres my Dad's pride and joy is- to the little log cabin nestled amongst the big trees. There- like the days spent on the shores of Kawishiwi Lake as a child, I smell my sleeve recognizing the scent of firewood, read books by the lantern light, construct puzzles on the floor, listen to guitar music, polka for breakfast, and snack on popcorn and cocoa before sleep. And true to form, there sits a cabin journal, encouraging guests to write about who they are, what they did, what they saw, encounters they made while on their visit. I took the journal to the front porch in the morning, steaming cup of coffee in hand, and remembered everything.

And the lil' dude? Loved every minute spent at her Papa's cabin- and we were completely unplugged. There isn't even any running water! She slept all night in between Daddy and Mama- stretched out in a giant X, arms splayed across both pillows. When she opened her eyes Saturday morning, she looked out the window, taking in her surroundings, she saw the four-wheeler. RIDE! she squealed, so out they went. We are so lucky to have no reason to not get out into the woods- where decades and decades and tradition will be spent making the best of memories.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I am thankful for the time I take to remember and appreciate Thanksgiving as a holiday, for helping the lil' dude with related crafts and stories and tradition. Christmas can wait.

I am thankful for my mother's wherewithal to preserve so many boxes from my childhood. Just last week I opened a box containing my very first baby doll and my eyes welled up.

I am thankful for my husband's work ethic, which he inherited from his very hardworking parents. What an amazing trait.

I am thankful someone is helping me make gravy today.

I am thankful for my daughter's legs which she uses to run run run and never stop.

I am thankful for the Beagle's unflagging patience in regards to constant rough, {nearly} two-year-old love and affection.

I am thankful for two decades' worth of friendship with simply phenomenal women, who will always be my 'girls'.

I am thankful for the two wonderful matriarchs of our families; the lil' dude's great-grandmothers who are strong, independent, sincere, sweet, honest women. They both are such great role models for my daughter, and we are blessed.

I am thankful for music; all the old songs I love, and the new gems I find.

I am thankful for library books.

I am thankful for today.
For always.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Of What You Dream

I'll admit, last night was more about me than you.

Just after midnight, you began to talk/cry/whimper in your sleep. This lasted nearly an hour, even after Daddy checked on you and rubbed your back ... calming and quieting you.

But you started up again, your tiny sounds so agonizing. You were asleep, but must have had a big ol' scenario going on in your tired brain. You were mumbling about Daddy sleeping, and the Beagle sleeping, so shhhh-shhhh, quiet, you kept whispering. You weren't at peace in the darkness, honey.

So, instinctively I scooped you up and headed to the recliner in the dark and rocked you.

You calmed down and fell quietly asleep.

Except, one time after nearly 20 minutes, you sat up, looked me in the eye, and said, Daddy, Coffee.

Which is goofy, since coffee's not Daddy's thing.

But I stifled my giggles. Because I know my dreams never make sense.

So thank you, sweet girl, for letting me be there for you last night.
Nights like those are so rare. I'll take 'em where I can get 'em!

Mama loves.

One of my favorite sleeping pictures of you!

Friday, November 20, 2009


Last night, when I walked in the door from being away from home for exactly 24 hours ... you flew at me in a frenzy, catapulting your tiny body down the stairs, and into my arms.
It knocked me over, literally, and figuratively.
You surprised me.
You hugged, you squealed, you petted, and you cooed.

Mama home! Mama back! MamaMamaMama!
Oh, sweet girl, how you do a world of good, even on some of the darkest days.

I've always been proud and a bit boastful of your easygoing-ness. How you've never really cried when I've left you, or acted scared to be away from me. Sure- as your mother I'd feel a small pang of really, child? Can you not show some remorse as I'm leaving, show me you love me? But here, after all, and all along, you've shown me that. If you love something, you let it go. You let her go. And she'll come back.

You watched me like a hawk last night, and I didn't leave your sight much. You fell and got hurt, and I was there to pick you up and you wrapped your arms around my neck so tight. You were so quiet, you had your father concerned ... our little jabberbox silenced. Your heart beat in a steady rupruprup against mine. Back to you, back to me, back to us.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

You ...

You are ... nearly two years old!
You want ... to be independent.
You wish ... you could watch movies 24/7.
You hate ... being woken up.
You miss ... your mouth when drinking from a regular cup.
You fear ... dead worms on the driveway.
You feel ... like my tiny newborn every so often.
You hear ... supernaturally, nothing gets past you.
You smell ... like Aveeno.
You crave ... grapes.
You search ... for Marty & Melman in your bed each morning.
You wonder ... where Daddy is when I wake you up.
You regret ... acting inappropriately when we ask you to apologize.
You ache ... when you bonk your head on the furniture.
You care ... about order and appearance of your things.
You always ... will be my baby.
You are not ... afraid.
You believe ... Daddy can do anything.
You dance ... when we say 'shake your booty'.
You sing ... the instrumental theme song to The Young & The Restless.
You cry ... when you're pushed to your limit.
You don't ... act like a baby much anymore.
You fight ... getting your nose wiped.
You write ... in brown crayon on the dining room linoleum.
You never ... knew how much you could change two people.
You listen ... to at least one of the same books each night at bedtime.
You need ... your NaNa to be by your face/head when you sleep.
You are happy ... When you're home with your people, and things.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Like No One is Watching

There's a very familiar, sweet quote by famous author Mark Twain that goes, "Dance like no one is watching. Sing like no one is listening. Love like you've never been hurt and live like it's heaven on Earth."

And today, you were able to live just a little bit like that.

You and Daddy went to Target for diapers early this morning- before you went to daycare.
Daddy emailed me at work when he returned and said, "Target was nice and dead this morning so we were going really fast with the cart through the aisles. Lil' dude kept saying, again! Again!"

That brought a smile to my face. Dance like no one is watching. Finding joy in unexpected places.

I know you're too young to remember a Monday morning diaper run with your Dad, but this is just a small piece of the life you live- the life both Daddy and I strive so hard to provide you with.

Live like it's heaven on Earth.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Happy four years to Team YOU & ME today!

In the month after we married, I watched you build the tile floor in the bathroom. Something you had never done before, you did your research and tried your hardest. That moment, watching that project, I knew I had married the absolute right person for me.
I watched you build a floor, now I watch you build a family. Our daughter is the greatest gift I've ever received, our team's proudest accomplishment.

You have an odd way of parking in parking lots.
You leave a pile of candy/snack wrappers on the counter in a tidy pile until you're ready to throw them all away at one time.
You unwrap a cupcake or muffin and leave those wrappers in the container.
You own about 40 stocking hats. Today, it's cold and windy and you didn't wear one because none matched your sweater.
You think, and believe, that all of your socks are either left, or rights.
You bought me the exact same anniversary card for three years in a row now. You're mad at Hallmark for that.

You're superstitious.
You're incredibly handsome.
You're sentimental, and sweet.
You're sarcastic and love inappropriate humor.

And you're all mine.
I love you to the moon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Monday, November 9, 2009


We had a playdate yesterday with one of your besties, Big T. We were careful not to mention his arrival too soon; we knew you'd be excited and keep asking when, when, when.

When I count my blessings, I count you twice- Irish Blessing

And you two played SO well together. I can't get over how big you two are, and how you can just talk to each other and carry on. You shared toys, movies, and Spongebob snacks- the sign of true friends!

It was a simple, sweet day. We are grateful for such blessings in our lives- the comfort of old, great friends.
When I put you to bed last night, you said, bye bye Big T. even though we had said our goodbyes hours earlier. You must have been thinking the same thing I was.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Letter from Mama, v23

This is it big girl! Your last month of being 1.
Me? I am ready to celebrate you- are you kidding? I've been planning your birthday party since last December.
{Wink, wink}

Here we are in sweet November- time to celebrate and remember many sweet things. Our home's anniversary, Daddy's and my wedding anniversary, the anniversary of your due date. The anniversary of our sweet Grandpa R.'s passing- one year ago today. I wanted to mention that because it's OK to talk about it and him. We miss him, and he was very important to our family. You won't remember him ... but you will. I'll help you and after all, I am from him, just as you are from him- he started this family and we'll always celebrate that.

I want to capture some of your baby memories while I still have the chance- so here is your list.

Wake up at 7:30am during the week, 9ish on weekends
{try to go} Potty, brush teeth, get dressed, do hair
Have juice and breakfast snack in green chair watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
Go to daycare
Nap for 3hrs in early afternoon
5pm home
Snack and Scooby Doo show
Playtime! Watch games with Daddy, read with Mama, help make crafts or projects, watch movies, walk the Beagle, {try to go} potty
Bath, teeth, hair, read, rock, bed at 8pm

Favorite Show- Scooby Doo
Favorite Color- Green
Favorite Food- Fruit
Least Favorite Food- colored Goldfish crackers
Favorite Beverage- Apple Juice-Water
Least Favorite Beverage- Chocolate Milk
Favorite Lovey- NaNa, your pink blanket
Favorite Hobby- Reading
Favorite Book- Mommy Doesn't Know My Name
Favorite Movie- Madagascar
Favorite Toy(s)- Scooby Doo action figures
Favorite Game- Throwing Lil' Dude High in the Air
Favorite Thing- watching for buses, trucks, and cops
Least Favorite Thing- walking over dead worms on the driveway/being woken up

Size 5 diaper
Size 6 shoes
Size 24mo./2T clothes
Love hats, shoes, sunglasses

You think everything is green
You can count to 4, then from 7-10
You are amazing at recognizing animals (vulture, jellyfish, yak)
You love to put things back. When I tried to undecorate for Halloween, it took me twice as long because you kept putting things back
You can let the dog in and out through the sliding door
You list every one's name at daycare on the ride in
You can take off your own pajamas in bed and throw them right on the floor

Loving you is cherry pie, lil' dude. I'm so proud to be your mama. You're my wish come true!

Mama loves.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Words

Lil' dude-
I've had this nagging feeling I was forgetting something. Something I meant to write, meant to share, or meant to preserve.
Then I remembered.
I forgot to share my words with you.

When I was 17, I began journaling/scrapping/keeping/writing. My bound books were called "Souls" and I have four of them. When I was in college, I spent an afternoon going through my Souls, collecting the words I loved most and clustering them together for something- I wasn't sure what. But I wanted all my words together, and they filled a page.

That page of words has decorated my life since that afternoon all those years ago. I stare at it everyday. I framed it and shared it with your aunties for birthdays one year. And now I'm sharing my words with you.

Mama loves.


Be the person everyone wants to sit next to.

Encourage a friend.

Ask yourself this question: "If I die tomorrow, what will I be remembered for?"

Remember that in the final moments what's important is whose holding your hand and whose hands you've held.

Do the right thing. Life is too short to do the wrong thing and then have to fix it.

Face the truth regardless of the consequences.

Never lose a friend.

When you're in a fight and you know you're right, don't hold back. Give it all you've got.

Set goals worthy of your talent.

Be sweeter to those you love.

Take chances, but not foolish ones.

Labels are for jars, not people.

Don't let good friends drift out of your life.

Become an exceptional source of encouragement.

When dissatisfied with what you're getting out of life, take an inventory of what you're putting in.

Live brave. Love big. Be true.

Put your foot down. Don't allow people to pull you in a million directions.

Measure people by what they are, not what they have.

Create a workspace that reflects your unique approach to your job and your life.

$3 mascara works just as well as $11 mascara.

Fix what is broken.

Be some one's hero.

Be like your mom.

Don't try to direct the wind, adjust your sails.

Let scabs heal. Remember your scars.

Smile and wink for your mugshot.

Hold on, not grudges.

Even sunshine burns if you get too much.

Cut the bullshit.

Don't put deodorant on if you need to take a shower.

Don't play hard to get. Play hard to keep.

Love like there's no tomorrow.

Be the fallen angel who actually gets up.

Follow your spirit.

Real life requires you to jump. Wear comfortable shoes.

And you really do have worth.

Don't be afraid to shock.

You don't have to be anti-dragon to be pro-princess.

Smell good.

Get a black eye fighting for what you believe in.

Never lick a steak knife.

Friends never go out of style.

The most destructive force in the universe is gossip.

Your friends love you anyway.

You should never confuse your career with your life.

There is a very fine line between 'hobby' and 'mental illness'.

Here's to good beer, cheap tequila, and the total pursuit of happiness.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Daddy's Girl

One of the aunties asked me last week if the lil' dude is a daddy's girl or a mama's girl.
I told her it varied. The math usually sits at 60% / 40% depending on all sorts of factors.

Truly though, the lil' dude is happiest when her Daddy, Mama, and Beagle are all accounted for. It's the first thing she does when she wakes up, taking attendance of the house's inhabitants.
It's the first thing she does when she gets home.
At the dinner table.
And as she doles out kisses at bedtime.
She needs all three of us.

But some days, she needs someone more than the other. Last night she only wanted the Dad to feed her dinner.
{sometimes, a girl is just too tired or too over spoon-feeding herself!}

When she requesting a bedtime snack, she only would let Daddy feed her the applesauce too.
She cried her sweet little face off when Mama attempted.

But she got both of us to read to her at bedtime.
It was the same exact book.
We each make it different, yet special, for her.
She knows that!

So yeah. Some days she's a Daddy's girl, and some days she a Mama's girl.
We're always anxiously waiting our turns!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Tail of Two Interpretations

This is the lil' dude, aka Bumblebee, going up to her first house for Trick or Treat!
And ... the fella who answered the door called her a butterfly.

And it happened again.

And she was called a fairy once too ...

I mean, come on! She had a stinger!
Down by her tushie!

Lil' dude- your costume was misinterpreted. How does that make you feel?Sorta like this, Mom. I can't smile about it yet.


We had a great Halloween at the lil' dude's house.
We slept in- some until nearly 10am.
We had orange pumpkin pancakes.
We carved our first pumpkin as a family; the smell of pumpkin guts brought back all sorts of nostalgia for the Dad and I.
A Happy Meal for lunch.
A 3-hour nap.
A no-dinner dinner, the lil' dude was too distracted and excited to eat.
And massive amounts of spoiling, candy, and laughs all night long.
Yesterday was a sugar hangover if I've ever seen one.
It was hilarious.
She was on high-speed from sunup to sundown.
There was no rest for this little bumblebee.
Which is just as it should be!