Tuesday, June 29, 2010

House Rules

Forgive quickly.
Be a good listener.
Never yell.
No shoes on the carpet.
Be polite.
Tell the truth.
Never hit.
Love your things.
Pick up after yourself.
Be grateful.
Eat dinner together.
Wait your turn.
Put our family first.
Be respectful.
Make every day fun.
No slamming doors.
Make your bed each morning.
Say I Love You when you leave.
Keep this place in your heart.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Second Chances

I've told my story before. How until age three, I lived with my grandparents and aunt R. until my parents finished college and got married. How I'd see them on weekends when they could afford time and bus fare for 120-mile trip home to see their daughter. I know given the chance to do things over, my Mama would make the same decision today because it was best for her, best for me, best for us. How one day in June of 1983, I packed up my life and moved away into our first home as a new family.

I've been away from the lil' dude for five days. I miss her like crazy. I miss her laugh and screams, hugs, and snot. I miss her telling me what to do impolitely, her begging to be held, the way she pushes her bangs out of her face. There is so much I miss in just five days. I can't wait to run up the steps to see her tomorrow evening, where, if history repeats itself, she'll be more excited to see the Beagle than her parents. It's OK.

Imagine if what I feel in five days was spread out over the three years my Mom was away from me. Imagine waking up every morning and recounting the days until she could see me again. Imagine if I cried every Sunday night as she boarded the bus back to campus. I imagine that all the time. She made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of love and responsibility. I don't know how to pay her back for that. So I just pay it forward with my own family, hoping I'm doing things as a wife and mother that make my Mama proud of me, her, and us.

   My Mama and me; 1983

So weeks like this when Camp Grandma is underway, I can't help but think what my Mom puts into the long days with her granddaughter. How it's maybe like a new chance at what she missed with her daughter. How taking the lil' dude to the beach in her hometown, potty training her, braiding her hair, rubbing her back, and teaching her the names of her flowers must feel all these years later. It must be the sweetest redemption there ever was. I hope for her, it is. I hope she knows how right this world was made when the lil' dude was born because there is no other way to explain it. She is a gift and the final chapter in our family's story.

What a happy ending.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


The lil' dude is off at Camp Grandma this week. So, quiet is the word of the week. I'll remember from now on telling a toddler about an impending bout of fun should not be done more than 30 minutes in advance of said event. A solid week of waking the lil' dude up resulted in her asking if she could go to Papa's house TO-DAY and screwing her tiny face into a pout when I told her no, not yet. Life in 30-minute increments = toddlerspeak.

I'll also be reminded packing for a two year old isn't any easier than it was when she was six months old as I mistakenly thought. I packed 10 outfits, 25 pairs of Princess undies, six pairs of pj's, and three pairs of shoes. Done. I remember the baby food, bottled water, Pack 'n' Play, stroller, infant seat, bumbo, bouncy seat, playmat, bathtub, pacifiers ... etc. that first summer at Camp Grandma. Oh the crap! This summer? One bag! Until I asked her (my mistake: never ask) what she needed to take with. Her answer made me flash-forward to her at 13 and ... wow, is she her Mama's daughter.

Ummm ... I need my NaNa with, Monkey, Glo-Worm ... my puppies and leashes ... Toy Story Band-Aids ... Toy Story guys ... bags for my Buzz and Woody ... Ummm ...

At her miniature command, I shoved everything into the trunk and told my Dad, good luck! See you Friday! and away the three of them went to untold stories and adventures, off into the sunset of Sunday night.

Oh, the quiet.
And lack of her stuffed community of pals!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Happy Father's Day!

A special shout-out to the two men in our lives we first learned about parenthood from.

Dad: thanks for being calm, consistent, and respectful since I was as old as I can remember. I've learned so much from you.

To the Dad's Dad: thank you for raising your son to be the husband and father he is today. The lil' dude and I are so blessed to have him in our lives.

It's because of you two we wanted to be where we are today.
We love you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Girls of 2007

Though the miles between are great, the ties remain the same.
Forever friends.
Childhood best friends, 32 years later.
Girls born in 2007.
Forever friends.
The sweetest story of all.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Game 5

Daddy woke you up this morning ... whispering how KG and Celtics won Game 5 last night of the NBA playoffs.
How they beat those stinkin' Lakers.

"I want to watch Game 5," you said back to him. "On the TV. I want to watch the game."

You settled for highlights on ESPN.

And made your Dad the proud-proudest.

Friday, June 11, 2010

500 Seasons of My Song

Welcome to the 500th post on Little Dude's Mama.

I feel particularly bittersweet about today's monument- for one, I am so happy I've continually updated this scrapbook and journal of love for my daughter. In motherhood, a lot of intentions are best laid to rest for a handful of reasons. I am proud of the consistency in my writing and chronicling.

The other emotion I feel is incredibility. 500 posts on my growing girl- in only two and a half years, she has given me so much content. If you think this blog is full of data and remembers, that should give you an accurate portrait of what my heart and mind hold. The capacity in which I've grown since December 7, 2007 in immeasurable.

I'd like to thank the readers who faithfully check in on our lives each day. Don't take this personally when I say I don't do this for you. If I did, I'd be doing it for the wrong reasons. While I take great pride and comfort in your interest, support, and praises, I'd tell this story without it.

I think #500 is a big deal. I know a lot of bloggers deal with their milestones in big, flashy ways. I'll tell you right now I don't have any big news to share. I don't have plans to launch anything. I don't even have an iPad to give away to one lucky reader. That is not what this is about ... I'm sorry!

So instead I'll keep my daughter in mind. I'll show her through photos I am who I am because of where I've been. I'll take her to the place my story begins. Where all my questions have answers, where all my prayers are answered. It's where I learned to read and write and love and share and boast and forgive and breathe and retain. It's where I learned to keep my heart on my sleeve. It's where I learned to think before I speak. Where I learned to mind my manners, and where I learned to be myself. It's where I learned to respect and honor my season and my song.

Because there is a place where the wind blows, and all directions point toward home.

It's where everything stays the same, touched and untouched at the same time.

It's where redemption wears the colors of the Lupines that faithfully grow behind the mailbox every summer.

It's the story the clothes line tells ... it's remembering when the thunder cracks and the lightening illuminates your bed to run, run, run to get the bedding before it pours.

It's the fact that I'll never think of it as junk, because it'll never be trash. Only treasure.

It's where being bored granted you mopping duty, where you found joy where you least and most likely expected it.

It's after years of steady rhythm and commotion, finding the peace only time can provide. It's accepting grace.

It's knowing that every path leads to home. It's touching everything again for the first time. It's never being too old or too distracted or too proud.

It's in the simplicity where everything shared with someone else is sweeter. It's remembering to never, ever forget.

Lil' dude, you've been these places with me, and can name them on your own when we're not even there. I hope your dreams are fortified with the things you already love, the people who already belong. You're my favorite season, and my every song.

I'd do everything again and repeat it all over to have this with you the exact same.
You're my 500 and more.

Mama loves.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Little Girl

The more blond hair that fell away from your face, the more a little girl emerged.
Maybe that's why it took me so long to get your hair cut ... into a real cut, for the first time.

You looked like you weren't sure. You weren't scared, just nervous. I've observed lately when you're feeling shy or overwhelmed, your fingers immediately go into your mouth and you're silent. Good thing Daddy was with to ease your hands away from your face. He was also there to prevent Mama from taking your locks too short!

Your stylist was so calm and sweet- and worked quickly. She loved your big eyes and calm demeanor. You read an Elmo book for her (so your head was turned downward) and watched a little Monsters, Inc. when she announced she was finished. Finished!

And you were revealed in all your little girl glory. A quick sticker, sucker, and goodbye wave and we were on our way.

I love having a daughter. I love that you're my daughter.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Letter from Mama, v30

We're both 30! Technically; I am years and you are months, but I still like the comparison. You are officially two and a half; for 30 months, you've been our centerpiece, the altar at which we worship, and the thread that sews us together. You're my favorite part in slow, acoustic country songs ... the violin solo which is sweet, strong, and clear. You're the vanilla ice cream cone that won't stop dripping, the cup of sugar in every recipe, and the reflection in every mirror. 30 months! That's so many manys.

This morning, you found a bug on the steps in the entryway. You made your Daddy come and remove it from your path; squealing and hollerin' like a true girly-girl and priss. You made me laugh so hard ... and sigh audibly. It wasn't three minutes later and we're all loaded in the car to begin our day and you have the bug ensconced in a Styrofoam tray ... on your LAP. From a distance, you figured the bug could be near you. If things got hairy, you knew your Mama or Daddy would leap to your rescue. I like that about you. Scared, but intrigued. Anyways, you brought the bug to daycare to show your peeps. I heard it went over well. Thanks for making my morning anything but ordinary.

In the spirit of numbers celebration, I feel I should do 30 mini-shout outs as part of this month's documentation. Here are 30 well-loved bits about the lil' dude, in no particular order:

The dimple in your nose - You don't like jelly - Or chocolate milk - Saying goodbye to everything - Love your toes painted - Pulling on Daddy's arm to get him to come with you - Stumbling out of bed to collapse on bathroom floor - How good you sit in shopping carts - Asking to see the picture I just took - Asking where your phone is - Reading aloud to yourself - Propping your chin in your hands - Asking to go to your friends' houses daily - Turning on the outside faucet - Loving your reflection in every smooth surface - Yelling 'Three Ball!' during the Playoffs - Saying your tummy is full - Washing your hands - Bringing an item from home with when we leave - Reading in bed by Gloworm's light - Singing - Picking flowers for Mama - Defending the dog when I scold him - Saying thank you, unprompted - Your black and blue shins - Calling skirts & dresses 'booties' - Whispering love you at bedtime - Your accessories - Labeling every color red - How blond you are.

You're two-and-a-half, big girl.
Just think, in the time it took you get here in life, in that exact amount of time again you'll be Kindergarten aged.

Mama loves.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Reading Material

Mama's got a new book on her nightstand:

And Mama means business.

We thought early this winter we had potty training in the bag ... we celebrated, we boasted. And now we're eating our words! Only parenthood can humble you in such ways, right? And while the lil' dude has been -dare I say- an amazing little person from the word go, this, this can be our challenge. This can be our season. Sleeping, eating, bottles, road trips, pacifiers, teething, daycare, talking, walking, toddler beds ... you name it, she's surpassed all of our expectations to the nth degree.

She's simply made our lives too easy.
So, I'm up for a good challenge ... and even more up for discontinuing the purchase of princess Pull-Ups once and for all.
To the nth degree.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Places We Go

A few blocks from our house is a private girls' college ... we can see the nuns and hear the chimes from our porch. The campus is beautiful and dates back to 1913. The community we live in is proud of this college. It's one of our favorite places to visit.

Because of this:

According to the lil' dude, it's where the fishies live. And she's right.

The pond is full of colorful Koi fish the college maintains season after season. Each spring, there is a release of the Koi back into their outdoor habitat.

And each spring, a tiny girl asks the question of when we can go see the fish ... a question that is re-asked until we take her to face the barren, cement pond left empty in the fall.

But for now, our season is here and the question is asked daily. I like to think she'll remember all the times we visited the Koi pond when she was little, how the Beagle lapped up the water and how she begged each time to get out of her stroller or wagon for a better look.

And how we're thankful for the lesson community and nature and creatures can teach us.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Back Where I Come From

Most aspects of parenting I can say without a doubt I love.

And, I'll never stop getting a kick out of watching everyone else I love parent, too.

When suddenly a weekend is less about self-fulfilling prophecies and more about little people's prophecies.

When nestled amongst the Miller Lite in the cooler are juice boxes and bottles of formula. When naptime trumps plans.

When we are lucky enough to share this adventure with those who went through our childhoods with us. When we are redeemed.

When an afternoon in spent in your hometown, in the park down the street from where you grew up, is about as good as it gets.

When you just hope your kids are as lucky as you were growing up- to be surrounded by friends who stand the test of time.

So one day they can have their afternoon in the park, where they skinned their knees, stayed out until dark, and shared secrets with those who know them best.