Thursday, May 7, 2015

Eloise - ONE (and then some...)

Dear Eloise,

First of all, my bad.  You are nearly 16 months old and this is your first letter.  I guess some of that "poor third baby" stuff is true.  Thanks to the miraculous technology of our modern society your babydom is well documented with photos and video, but you have had a very wonky nap schedule and lack of letter writing. But, anyway... here we are.

You finally started walking this week.  You had taken steps here and there and loved to push around Lawton's Batmobile or any other large riding toy, but you stubbornly refused to walk when there was the option to crawl. I was never worried about you, though.  If you had been my first baby I might have been, but that is one of the perks of being a "poor third baby"; mommy is much less anxious about those pesky milestones. But still I have been relieved and overjoyed to see your little wobbly, zombie-like, teetering steps across the room and proud of the times you have stumbled and then gotten right back up.

I can't really put into words how you have changed our family but without a doubt it has been for the better.  You have been a true dreamboat of a baby since day one.  You were sweet and easy and quiet as a newborn, the perfect little sibling, always willing to go with the flow without putting up much of a fuss.  You loved the attention of your siblings and the dogs and loved being held by any and everyone. My friends joked that they would forget I had even had you since you were so content to just watch the action when we all got together. Of course that is no longer the case as you are devloping quite the feisty little personality and are learning how to make your presence known.  You are stubborn and determined and as quick to anger as you are to giggle. I can see a little bit of Lawton in you when you get frustrated with something and screech.  I can see Laine when you climb up into the rocking chair and flip through a book with the utmost focus. But mostly you are your own little special force to be reckoned with, which is never more clear than when you flash your little toothy grin at us (usually looking back as you go for the stairs yet again).  We are delighted by you daily.

I've said this before when your brother was small but I am still amazed by it- having you increased my capacity to love unconditionally.  All three of you are so different and interesting and special and watching you learn about and react to the world is truly inspiring.  Seeing you start to show us your own sweet, silly, spunky personality is fascinating and exciting and really just the joy of my life. I have a feeling you are going to keep me on my toes and continue to surprise me and do things on your own time.  You are going to push back against your brother and be competitive with your sister.  You're going to try things that don't work and get frustrated.  You're going to want to do things you are not quite big enough to do yet.  But I hope you will carry something with you from this early part of your life: know that I am always right behind you with my hand out (and probably an iPhone in the other hand taking a picture), watching with pride every time you stumble and then get back up.

I love you, Weezy!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Laine : FIVE

Dear Laine,

Last week you had your first gymnastics meet.  You were so nervous about the idea of having a judge watching and scoring you that you were nearly in tears on the way there.  Now, let me back track a bit and say that you are not, in fact, all that good at gymnastics.  I know, it surprised me too.  You've kind of been my little golden child for all five years of your life so far, effortlessly good at most things you try, eager to learn, smart and quick and bright and talented.  You're also usually among the oldest in your groups and classes, which never hurts.  So when you were recommended for the rec league at the county gymnastics program last fall I was thrilled but not particularly surprised. We took a break when your sister was born, but you couldn't wait to get back into gymnastics this fall and I was eager to see what new things you'd learn as part of a "team".  You have worked hard and you do seem to really enjoy it, but the skills of gymnastics just do not come as naturally to you as they do for the other girls in your group (that Jordan kid is just ridiculous).  So I was a little nervous for you as well, neither of us knowing quite what to expect at this meet.

Your group of four competed in four categories: bars, balance beam, vault, and floor.  Of course, being 4-6 year olds, the skill sets were very simple, but it was still an impressive and intimidating line up.  You were practically radiating energy out there on the floor, smiling and wiggling and hopping around, sending the older girls into fits of laughter with your antics.  You tried so hard and accomplished things I had seen you shy away from even trying in class. You waved and gave thumbs up signs to me and your dad and siblings whenever you finished a section.  I was amazed at how quickly you shed your nerves, and at how well you performed.  You were so brave and so confident.  And, sweet girl, you lost pretty much every category you competed in.

But here is the amazing thing, Laine.  You didn't even know you lost.  You stood up there on that 4th place podium like you had just won gold at the Olympics.  You looked at your participation medal like it was the most majestic thing ever to hang from a neck.  You were so proud of yourself.  And I was so proud of you too.  You faced your fears, you showed up, and you followed our two big rules: you had fun and tried your best.

I am writing all of this to say that, while you truly are a gifted student and artist and performer, it is your attitude and the light you bring to the lives of everyone around you that is really exceptional.  We often joke that you could raise yourself, that you are the "easy child", and in some regards it is true.  You are independent and sensitive and respectful of authority and sweet and a whole laundry list of things that make you "easy" to parent.  But you are also such a remarkable little human being that I feel I must rise to the occasion as your mother and really foster the amazing curiosity and love of learning and compassion and talent that I see in you.  I am lucky to have the hard job of raising such an easy child.

I can't believe you will be 5 tomorrow.  There have been moments this week that I have looked at you and felt like I was seeing years flash by before me; I could see the teenager, the young woman, the adult that you will be one day.  I am so excited to see what you become, but so eager to relish this time I have with you while you're still little.  You are artistic and funny, generous and bright, an avid reader, an eager student and loyal friend, and an amazing big sister. You bring me and our whole family so much joy.

So basically what I am saying, Lainey-bug, is that I could not be more proud that you are my daughter.
Even if you are certainly no Olympic gymnast.

I love you!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lawton : THREE


How funny that the last time I wrote on this blog was for your second birthday, exactly a year ago today.  I knew it had been a while but I didn't realize it had been a full year until I logged on to write you this letter.  I guess it has been a busy year.  We added sweet Eloise to the family, daddy got promoted and added another job at the hospice, we bought, renovated, and moved into a much bigger house, Aunt Chelsea got married and moved to Denver, Aunt Kristin got married and had baby Preston... our family has been growing and changing and moving nonstop.  And so have you!

Growing, changing, and moving are three very apt words for you this past year.  You are a whirlwind, a force, a lightning bolt.  You stop my heart daily, either from the force of my love for you or from sheer terror... often both, but rarely at once.  You are fearless and wild, energetic and intense, dramatic and exuberant.  Sometimes I feel guilty about how often I joke to people about you:  that you are my test, my challenge, that your sisters are the easy ones, or that I have three times as many gray hairs as I did when you were born... you get the idea.  But truthfully, you have taught me a lot in these past few years and I am grateful.  You've taught me patience and humility, and to have faith in myself and my instincts.  You remind me to be playful and spontaneous, to be engaging with friends and strangers alike, and to delight in life at every turn.

As I type this I am calling up the stairs for you to go in your room; I hear you sneaking around in the hallway.  You're probably looking at one of your new books or imagining that you're on some kind of animal rescue.  I hear your little feet scurry away when I say your name and the click of your door closing.  I know you must be tired after a busy weekend with family and friends but you will never admit it and you will probably come out at least one more time, to see if I'll notice as much as to finish whatever it was you were doing.  In the old house we had to turn the doorknobs around in your bedroom so we could lock your door from the outside during naps.  Otherwise you and I would battle for hours, ending with us both crying and exhausted by the end of the day.  You can not be contained.  You are my wild one.

As much as you do love to test your boundaries, I can not say enough about what a charming and sweet boy you are.  You have spent the past few weeks inviting everyone we see to your "jungle birthday".  ("You want to invite me to my party?  We can hang up a big tiger!")  You also invite them to our house to watch the "Keeeeermit the Frog" movie or play with your cars.  You can not ignore a pretty girl, often asking to go say hi or sit with them when we are out.  You love your friends and teachers at school, you adore your sisters (you have given Eloise the nickname "Weezle" and she is just delighted by you), and you are generous with compliments and affection.  It is balm for my soul when you tell me I'm the "best mommy" or ask me for a "looooong kiss" or say how much you "woooove my pretty dress!".  You are also one of the funniest little guys I know.  You often have entire groups of people in stitches and you seem to already have a knack for comic timing.  I can't wait to continue to watch your sense of humor develop; I have a feeling we will have a class clown on our hands.

There have been many times in the past year when I have sat and wondered if I am a strong enough, good enough, patient enough mother for you.  I wondered if I can do enough to teach you to be the kind of man I know you are capable of becoming.  I wondered if you felt my frustration, my anxiety, and sometimes my straight up ANGER and thought it was directed at you as a person rather than at the circumstances or your behavior in that moment.  But I guess I just have to hope... no, I have to OWN that for better or worse, I am the mother you were given.  And when you ask to wear the shirt that I said you looked handsome in, it is because you sensed my adoration.  And when you looked back toward me when you jumped down from the tree at the playground all by yourself, it is because you sensed my pride.  And when you are sitting up in your room right now pressing the button on your Superman birthday card that I gave you over and over again (yes, son, I can hear you), it is because you feel the love I have for you, my little superman.  And you know that I believe you can do ANYTHING.  And it (and I) will be enough.

Happy birthday, Lawton boy.  I just adore you.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Lawton : 2

Dear Lawton,

Just starting this letter I found myself grinning and letting out a big sigh.  In part because I can not believe my baby boy is TWO, but also because those are two very common reactions you elicit from me on a daily basis.  While you certainly love to test boundaries and push buttons and tempt fate, you are also sweet and affectionate and bright and funny as can be. 

Of course as the second, soon to be MIDDLE, child, it is hard not to compare you to your sister.  Did you meet your milestones when she did?  Do you talk as much or as well as she did?  Do you react to things the way she did?  But you are so clearly your own person already.  You are smart and precocious and curious like your sister was and is, but you are also loud and confident and daring and stubborn and sometimes a little bit wild.  You love to meet new people and are quick to offer hugs and affection.  Even as a baby you won people over just in passing, and you still do.  People fall in love with you right away and you eat it up, always amused and excited by attention and praise.

So much joy for me lately comes from watching you with your sister.  You are by far her biggest fan and you want to do EVERYTHING she does.  Laine takes gymnastics?  Well then sign you up.  Laine has fairy wings on?  You'll wear some and be a superhero.  Laine wants something to drink?  What do you know, you're thirsty too!  You are both attending the same three day preschool now in classes across the hall from each other and, even though you are only apart for three hours, if I pick you up inside (rather than in the carpool line) you run to each other and embrace like it has been weeks.  It is so much fun for me to see you grow to love each other so much and learn how to play with one another.  I'm sure eventually you will want to set your own rules but for now you are content to tag along with your big sister and do whatever she tells you to, namely being Tinkerbell's sidekick Periwinkle or Ariel's fish friend Flounder.

While you love playing with Laine and happily identify any and all Disney princesses, you are also so very much a little BOY.  You are newly obsessed with Lightning McQueen from the Cars movie (you have McQueen and Mater little wheelie cars that we must know the whereabouts of at all times OR ELSE).  We were lucky enough to get a handed down train table, which fueled your loves for trains (especially Thomas and friends).  You love trucks and buses and construction vehicles and basically anything with wheels.  Your birthday presents were all tremendous hits, but your current favorite is definitely the Batmobile from your aunts Chelsea and Tricia, combining your loves of riding on things, superheros, and cars.  You have already mastered zooming around corners, pressing the button that proclaims "back to the batcave!" and grinning like a fool.  I love it.

In a lot of ways it's been harder to acknowledge that you are no longer my baby than it was with Laine.  When she was your age you were already here, so her title as "baby" was usurped pretty early.  But now that you are officially two years old, in preschool three days a week, talking in full sentences and asking me "aw... WHY" every other minute, I can't really argue that you are becoming a little boy.  I'm so proud of you and the little person you are and are growing into.  You make a lot of people smile all the time, and I have no doubt you will continue to do so.  I am so lucky and thrilled and proud to be your mommy.

I love you, little stinker.


Monday, August 5, 2013

a letter to my daughter and son

Laine and Lawton,

Kiddos.  Let me me start by saying that you are both amazing.  I mean it.  You AMAZE me.  And, almost as amazing, somehow you both manage to have the entirety of my heart.  It's like each time I gave birth to a baby, my body also generated a new heart so that each of you could have your very own.  And so now I'm getting a third new heart, a third amazing little person.  And I could not be more excited to share this with you both.  Laine, you have been a rock star of a big sister from the day we brought Lawton home.  You are helpful and sweet and as patient as your 3 year old self can be.  You are certain New Baby is a girl and already want to buy her things and draw her pictures and set aside certain toys for her.  It makes my heart soar.  Lawton, seeing you as a big brother will be such a hoot.  You are so full of life and joy and energy and love and I know you will be amazing at sharing that with your new sibling.  I think I have held onto you being a "baby" for longer than I did with your sister and so it is odd for me to think of you as being old enough to be a big brother... but with your birthday less than a month away it is kind of hard to ignore anymore.  I am so proud of the boy you are becoming.

I find so much joy in the love you two have for one another.  Lawton, you ask for Laine as soon as I come to get you out of your crib.  Laine, when I took you on a special girl morning and Lawton was at MMO you asked and talked about him almost the whole time.  You are both ecstatic to be going to school together starting in a few weeks.  You teach, help, encourage and amuse each other constantly.  I feel so much hope when I see you two hug spontaneously, or when I hear you cracking up in your room together, or see you share a toy without prompting.  One of my most fervent prayers as a parent is that you maintain and foster and nurture that relationship into adulthood.  My sisters are like touchstones in my life, constant sources of pride and laughter and comfort.  I want that for you both, with each other and with your sibling to be.  I love how you love each other.

Don't get me wrong, kiddos, you are not perfect children any more than I am a perfect mother.  You challenge me and stress me out and test my patience, and I know you get frustrated with me and each other.  We have bad days, we have hard times, we have time outs, we raise our voices.  Being your mom is a hard and exhausting job.  But man oh man, so rewarding and a tremendous source of pride. It is important that you know that you are treasured, valued, appreciated, and so so very loved... no matter what.

I'm thankful to be your mommy, and grateful that New Baby will have both of you for siblings.

Monday, January 7, 2013


My family is currently in a major state of flux the likes of which I have not known for all of my 28 years.  Change has never been my favorite thing, and apparently neither is reevaluation of things I have been happy to take for granted.  Among these things:  home.  I can't really classify my family's current house as a "childhood home" (we moved a number of times when I was in elementary and middle school and I have warm memories set against the background of a number of houses), it is certainly as close to one as I have.  Before we moved in the house belonged to my grandmother, who bought it with my grandfather when my mom was only 18.  So even when the house wasn't ours it was part of our family: an oasis by the pool in the summer, a cozy place to spend the holidays, a treasure trove of sepia toned photos and hidden figurines and unusual musical instruments.

Right before Christmas the house went under contract.  Suddenly I saw parts of the house in stark relief; my initials in the cement of the driveway, my sisters' scribbles in the backs of closets, the "hobbit hole" in the bathroom designed mostly as a hanging space for my mom's stained glass, the quilted fabric I picked for the curtains in my bedroom, curtains hanging in the window where my husband used to throw rocks to summon me downstairs for our early morning walks before school, the living room home of my high school "playdates".  The house is full of little pieces of my history and my family.  Losing the house seemed like a symbol for everything else I was losing, for the loss of the ability to define myself and my family and my home with ease and comfort and assurance.

But there is a house and there is a home.  There is what I knew and there is what I will always know.  And I always know that I have a home in the love of my family.  I have ease and comfort in the laughter I share with my sisters.  I have assurance in the support and confidence of my parents.  The house may be a symbol, but it is a symbol of the time and investment we all made in creating memories that exist outside of walls and a ceiling.  Those pieces of history are mine to keep.

For what it's worth, the contract on the house fell through.  For a bit longer we get to surround ourselves in the comfort of a house that is still our home.  We get to take smaller steps on this new journey rather than one giant scary leap at a time.  But I will remind myself with each step that no one can take a home away from any of us as long as we remember to look for it inside ourselves and within each other.

"I'll never be a stranger and I'll never be alone.  Wherever we're together that's my home." 
Billy Joel

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


I got mad at one of my best friends a few weeks ago.  I was having one of those days.  My prospects for success looked bleak, my ego was fragile, my abilities were few and inconsequential.  And I felt fat.  I was listing off all of the things at which I felt mediocre at best and he told me "if you want to be better at something, work harder".  In the moment that advice felt more like an insult.  I'm not good enough because I haven't MADE myself good enough?  Well then life IS over because by golly I can't DO anymore.  This is as good as it gets and it is NOT ENOUGH.

But it's a new year and a time for resolutions and I've realized (and he will LOVE this) that he may have been right.  The beginning of a new year is a time when it is appropriate for other people to ask you what you don't like about yourself and how you plan to change it.  Because what is a resolution but a promise to ourselves that we will get better at things by working harder?  We resolve to improve upon ourselves so that this year can be better than the last.  Rather than listing our inadequacies and expecting someone to tell us we are wrong, we list them and hope to be held accountable as we find ways to do something about it.

So I'm starting here.  Last year, I wrote only seven blog entries.  Writing is something that I enjoy and that I have been encouraged to pursue by people that I trust and yet I have not worked to improve myself as a writer.  If I want to get better, I have to do more.

I'm also going to run a 10K.  I started running last year around this time and have completed two 5K races.  I met my weight loss goals and have been able to maintain to a satisfactory degree.  But if I want to get better, I have to do more.

My other resolution seems a bit counter intuitive to the rest of what I have been saying, but I feel like it still applies.  I need to relax.  If I want to feel better, I need to do more for myself.  I need to invest time where it is valuable, I need to seek out things and people that bring me joy and peace, I need to mindfully, actively, and consistently be kind to myself.  If I want to be better, feel better, do better, live better, give better... I need to be, feel, do, live, and give MORE.  I will start 2013 resolved to be proactive.

And hopefully I will greet 2014 with AT LEAST eight blog entries.