Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happy Birthday, Loves

A very belated, yet extremely heartfelt happy birthday to my sugar and spice. 

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Dear Grace-
Oh my Gracie girl. My spirit. My spice. My girl on fire. 


How is it possible you are six already? I am quite sure I will never stop being surprised at how fast time flies. One day you’re going about your business, living life each day and then boom — all of the sudden, your baby is doing math problems and talking to you about which boy she likes at school. And although I do miss you as a baby and a toddler and a sweet little preschooler, I am adoring this stage, too. Watching you start school and navigate all the ups and downs that go with that has been one of my greatest joys. 




This past year you have grown so much. You love school and learning and yes, boys. We’re not ready for that last one, but you aren’t really yet either, so it’s OK for now. You have a natural talent for math and are working so hard with your letters and reading. I couldn’t be more proud of how hard you work. Keep that up, sweet dear, and the sky is the limit. 




I have also loved watching you with your little brother. You have had to share since you were in utero, so I worried that adding another baby would make you and Claire feel resentful. I knew what little one-on-one time you had would shrink once Henry arrived. And it did. But you just rolled with it. Never once getting mad at Henry for me needing to take a nap or having to skip a trip to the movies or just generally being grumpy. He’s still the cutest and sweetest little guy you’ve ever seen and you still argue with you sister over who has had more Henry time. 



Speaking of your sister, let’s talk about her. Your relationship has weathered some storms this year. Since you were babies, you have had your ups and downs. She used to steal your toys and you used to scream at her. That same friction has existed over the years, but this year, the friction was more verbal — more cutting. It didn’t happen often, but it was hard to listen to when it did — you tearing each other down tore at my heart. I worried at times that things were getting too callous, but then I’d find you playing together and just giggling at some silly thing. I grew up with siblings, so I know the love/hate cycle, but I want you to — I need you to — remember something. You will never find another person in this world that loves you like Claire does. Sisters, especially twins, are special. You will have moments of white-hot fury. Moments that you think you can’t stand another minute of her. But her heart and your heart fit together like a perfect puzzle. You are the yin to her yang. Always remember that. Be her strength when she has none. Be her joy when she’s down. Be her confidence when hers is lacking. I know you can’t see it yet, but that sister of yours is one of your greatest gifts in this life. 







Gracie girl, I love you so much. I love your joy and your fury and your sadness. I love your crazy curls and the freckles that dance across your nose. I love your mismatched clothes and the sassy way you wear them. I love the way you want to hold my hand on our way downstairs each morning. I love how much you remind me of myself. I love how you’re still your very own. And I’m confident you’re going to take Six by storm. 

Go get ‘em, girl. 

Love you, 
Mama



Dear Claire,
My sweetest, loving, softhearted little girl. 

You are six now!!! Each year I find it difficult to put into words our year together. It was full of so many moments. So many emotions. So many hugs, laughs, tears. How could I ever possibly fit all of that into a handful of paragraphs? I don’t know if I’ll succeed, but I’ll give it a try. 



This year you experienced many milestones. You finished preschool and left the only teachers you had ever known. You welcomed a baby brother with open arms and smothered him with love and kisses. You started Kindergarten and braved a new world without Grace. And you stayed just as sweet as you have always been. You still like to snuggle. And you love fiercely. 


You are excelling at school — with an aptitude for letters and reading. I could watch you learn to read all day long. And a part of me doesn’t want you to ever learn how to spell. What will I do when I stop getting these notes that are perfectly sounded out, yet hilariously misspelled? They truly brighten my day. 

You are still exceptionally sweet — just the other day I was reading a rather emotional book to you and as the tears started to fall down my face, you turned to see why I paused the book and gently wiped away my tears. You are sad when others are sad and happy when they are happy. The depth of your empathy never ceases to amaze me.  



You are, however, still very, very determined. And by determined, I mean stubborn. And by stubborn, I mean completely inflexible when presented with something contrary to your preferences. We’re working on it. Multiple times a day. And I have fingers and toes crossed that you will learn flexibility. Hopefully soon. 

You love to be silly and easily make friends. You are a master at physical comedy: falling out of your chair, pretending to slip on the wood floors, fake falling out of bed. We’re pretty sure you would love the Three Stooges. 




You love your brother to the moon and back and back again. Six months in, you still light up every time you see his face. You also love your sister, but that relationship is more complex (for obvious reasons). You enjoy pushing her buttons and watching the subsequent meltdown (she’s very dramatic, so I can see how this might be entertaining). But for my and your father’s sanity, I wish you’d push them less often. You two can be arguing about the most ludicrous, meaningless topic and then an hour later, be giggling together over something silly. I know this relationship will be headed for many, many ups and downs. There will be moments you can’t stand her. And moments you don’t know how you’d survive without her. So, please indulge me on this small piece of advice: forget the annoying moments. Or, better yet, remember them for later in life. They’ll make good stories. But cherish every single minute of the good times. She will become your best friend, your confidant, your co-conspirator, your sounding board, your shoulder to cry on. She will pick you up when you fall, hug you when you’re sad and, knowing Grace, tell on you when you need told on. She’s your other half. The salt to your pepper. The mustard to your ketchup. The spice to your sugar. Don’t ever forget it. 






Dear, sweet girl of mine, I love you more than I can ever fully express in words. You are truly the sunshine on my cloudy day. I love your snuggles and your whole-body hugs. I love your sweet soul and empathy. I love the way you climb into my lap and curl up like it’s home. Because it is. 



In this next year, I hope you stay your sweet, kind, loving self. I hope you loosen that inflexible nature. I hope you stay true to Claire. Do that and Six will be one of the best yet.    

Love you, 
Mama




Friday, January 22, 2016

Someday

Someday I’ll read as many books as I want. 

Someday I’ll wake up when I want. 

Someday I’ll nap when I want. 

Someday I’ll sleep through the night. 

Someday I’ll go to the movies as often as I can afford. 

Someday I’ll eat at non-kid friendly restaurants. 

Someday I’ll shower every day. For as long as I want. In peace and quiet. 

Someday they will go to bed without asking for another hug. Or seven. 

Someday they won’t want me to watch movies with them. 

Someday I won’t be the person they ask to hang out with. 

Someday they’ll roll their eyes when I want to talk to them. 

Someday they won’t think my jokes are funny. 

Someday they won’t believe I am magic. 

Someday my snuggles won’t make it all better. 

...


Ok, someday can wait.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Oh Crap

That, my friends, is what we call forward progression. 



Monday, December 28, 2015

Dear Henry: Month Six

Dear Sickest Henry-

This month was, unfortunately and sadly, defined by illness. It started as a runny nose that led to difficulty breathing through your nose, which led to extreme misery. And that was just the first two days. It eventually turned into a double ear infection, which led to intense misery. Suffice to say, there was a lot of misery. 



But we survived! And the silver lining? We snuggled for pretty much 48 hours straight. Which did have the unfortunate consequence of making you feel like you now have to be rocked before you can go to sleep, but that had the fortunate consequence of me knowing just how wonderful it is when you gently rest your hand on my cheek as I rock you to sleep. And that, my dear son, is worth all the arm aches and back pain. 

The illness lasted for about half of the month and the other half? Smiles. All smiles. 


And chewing. Lots and lots of chewing.





You also figured out rolling both ways, which led to a bit of mobility, which led me to step up my baby-proofing game. 

You haven’t been interested in baby food yet. I’ve tried several times and each time you give me this look of total and utter disgust and then clamp your mouth shut and refuse to try another bite. We’ll keep trying, but I’m not worried.



I know I’m a bit behind this month with your letter. December is busy for most everyone, but add in two birthdays and it’s just shy of chaos around here. Add in a six-month-old baby and you have complete chaos. 

And we’re loving every minute. 



Love always, 
Mama













Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Search Has Ended

We called on you and you answered the call. 

You searched your collections. You asked your friends. Your neighbors. Your family. 

You posted it on Facebook and continued to spread the word. 

Yesterday, I received a small package. Inside it contained joy. Pure, unadulterated joy (in the form of a soft, gray kitten). It was from a family I have never met. A family whose compassion and generosity inspired them to help Santa fulfill a little girl’s wish. 



In less than 10 days we will get to watch that little girl’s face as she sees her best buddy under the tree. I can’t wait. 


Thanks to every one of you who helped Santa with his search. Y’all are certainly on the nice list. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Search for Rocky

Three years ago nearly to the day, Claire wrote a letter to Santa in which she asked for “a cat and a choo-choo for the cat to go in.” 

Three years ago on Christmas Eve, Santa ran from store to store, searching for a stuffed animal cat. You see, Santa waited until the last minute because how hard could it be to find a stuffed cat? Harder than you think. Nothing at Target. Nothing at Wal-Mart. Nothing at the mall. Nothing at the various dollar stores. No stuffed cats to be found. And businesses were starting to close. Panic was setting in. 

So, Santa tried one last place — Hastings. The most unlikely of places to find a stuffed animal. But way in the very back of the store was a rack full of stuffed animals. And in it sat, Rocky. The softest, most cuddly little gray stuffed kitty. 

And on Christmas morning, one sweet little three-year-old girl found a soft, cuddly gray kitten under the tree. 




In the years to come, there would be other stuffed animals. Freckles. Little Horsey. Jake. Rose. Cubby. All of these were special, but none ever took Rocky’s place as best buddy. 

Rocky went everywhere with Claire. To sleepovers and restaurants and camping. In just about every car ride. He stayed with her during her eye surgery. And he was misplaced a time or two. We once found him in the microwave of the play kitchen and once balled up in the play tea kettle. He was good at hide and seek.



But he was always found. Until this summer. 

Rocky’s last known location was at the hospital when Henry was born — he was so special, he accompanied Claire to the first time she met her baby brother. 


The days and weeks and months after that were a blur of baby cries and sleep deprivation. Rocky’s absence wasn’t noted until a few months down the road. 

We searched high and low, but could not find that sneaky little buddy. We looked in microwaves, tea kettles, cars, purses, overnight bags, under beds, in drawers — still no Rocky. 

Last night, as we are writing our letters to Santa, Claire dictates the following: 

Dear Santa,
Do you know the Rocky you gave me three years ago? I lost him by accident. Will you give me another cat like Rocky?

And so Santa’s helpers (Scott and I) began the search and pled with any friends or family members who might know of another Rocky. Friends from all over joined the search. They asked their friends and those friends asked their friends. And although this particular cat seems to be of the most rare variety and very hard to find, I sat down last night and couldn’t help but smile. 

Some day I will tell Claire of the great lengths so many friends and friends of friends went to to find her another Rocky. People she has never met before trekked to their basements and searched through totes of beanie babies to see if Rocky was among them. They called on family members to do the same. From Kansas to Illinois to Minnesota, people were hunting for a Christmas miracle. 


And although we didn’t find the cat, that kind of spirit and compassion is a Christmas miracle all on its own. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fussy Nights

Eleven days ago, Henry caught a cold. It started out as a runny nose. Slight cough. Fussy nights. 

Two nights later, he wouldn’t even let me lay him in bed. Every time he sensed I was thinking about it, he’d start hollering. So, that night, I piled up some pillows on the twin bed that’s in his room and he slept on me while I lay in a semi-sitting position, with my neck twisted in an unnatural position and the top half of me freezing because I couldn’t pull the blankets over his head. And, of course, not moving the tiniest of bits for fear I would wake him. 

That Sunday, I took him to minor med and they told me “it’s a virus.” Which is code for “good luck, lady.” I hung my head and went home with two recommendations: use saline nasal drops and a nasal aspirator, which is code for “go home and torture your kid.” 

But then it got better-ish for a few days. He still wasn’t napping or sleeping well, but at least he was doing it in his bed. 



But then it got worse. He wouldn’t go to sleep for Scott at all. He wouldn’t even let me rock him in a reclined position. Every time I went to lay him down, he started moaning and then screaming. 

So, for two nights, he slept on my chest. While I sat up, neck twisted, shoulders freezing, not moving and oh, did I mention that I also caught his cold? So, in addition to the discomfort of our sleeping arrangements, I spent the night trying to silently clear my throat and hold back my coughs. 

I know someday I’ll remember these nights fondly — the days where he curled up on my chest and just needed his Mama. But someday is not this day. And this day, I needed a break. 

So, yesterday — a week from the first doctor’s visit — we went back. I sat there holding my breath as she examined him. Lungs sounded good, nose wasn’t too bad, no fever. Then she checked his ears. “Here it is. Double ear infection.” 

I exhaled and almost hugged her. Not that she had any control in the matter, but I was just so happy to hear something other than “suck it up and wait.” 


Instead, we medicate and wait. I’ll let you know how it goes.