Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Monday, December 19, 2011
One day (probably a Wednesday), Bubba and the Bug set out on a grand adventure.
Now in most books about grand adventures, you begin with an "unlikely pair". But Bubba and the Bug are about as likely as they come because, you see, they are brother and sister.
Bug is the fearless leader of the two, a singer, dancer, painter, lover of pink and voice of many a stuffed bear.
She's mostly the fearless leader because Bubba is a baby.
Most grand adventures also involve a great deal of complicated traveling, but Bubba and the Bug had nap times to consider, so for this grand Wednesday, travel was limited to wherever Fancy Car might take them In Town.
The Bug surveyed the land from her Special Seat and announced to Bubba that the adventures of the day would begin with errands.
But both were disappointed about the decidedly non-adventure-y feeling of errand running.
(What should Bubba and the Bug do next? What do you think?)
Friday, November 18, 2011
Today I was folding and sorting some of Lawton's laundry, pulling out the newborn onesies and sleepers that are now too small. As I placed them in their own little pile to be relegated to the attic I had to stop and catch my breath for a moment thinking of you, my big, beautiful, smart and sassy little girl, fitting into those same newborn onesies only two years ago. Only two years and yet... two whole years! I think only a parent can understand how a length of time can seem so long and so distant and yet have flown by. I remember so clearly the doctor's appointment when I learned you existed, then standing on the balcony of our tiny one bedroom apartment going through my contact list to let everyone know I was PREGNANT (oh the joy and the terror and the triumph and the anticipation and the anxiety and the excitement wrapped into those eight letters). And then 39 long/short weeks later, laboring for so long in the hospital and finding out you were a girl (!!!). I remember bringing you home (to a TWO bedroom apartment), watching you grow, filled with anxiety and wonder and pride, moving you into our first home as a family, seeing you learn to crawl, start to speak, take your first steps...and all of this was just in one year. And now you're two.
In your second year I found out I was pregnant again in January and had your brother on September 1st (it's been quite a year for both of us, sweetpea). You went from being my only child to being my first. And you became a big sister. If I was proud of you before, I don't know the word to describe the swell of emotions I feel as I watch you with your brother. Whenever people hear how close in age you two are they always ask me how you're doing... if you're gentle with the baby, if you're a good helper, how you've handled the changes. My response is always the same: you're a rock star.
Being a big sister is not the only thing at which you are excelling (and blowing Mommy's mind with). Holy smokes, girl, are you SMART. Your vocabulary has skyrocketed and your diction is truly impressive. Even your pediatrician looked at me across the exam table with raised eyebrows when you started talking to him. You speak in full sentences, connecting thoughts in way that sometimes surprises me. (When I got pulled over on our way home from Augusta - NOT for speeding... apparently I didn't slow down enough when passing a police car - you were entranced by the police officer ("the man" as you referred to him) and asked if he was "like Robert", a police horse in a book we hadn't read in weeks.) You're funny, precocious, flirty (btw, you may want to back off of Travis a little... aunt Chelsea might be getting a little jealous), stubborn, and sweet. You love to sing and have really remarkable pitch for a 2 year old. You take that "dance like no one is watching" quote very literally. You devour books like candy (which you will also devour... like... itself) and have many of your favorites memorized. You still sleep like an angel and eat like a champ. You are learning so much so fast about being kind and sharing and taking turns... not that you always do it, because you are a willful and spunky little goober sometimes and certainly know how to have a fit with the best of them. But basically what I'm getting at here is that I could not have asked for a more remarkable child.
Darling daughter, I just plain adore you. You are beautiful to me and I can assure you that you always will be. I am so happy to have added your brother to our family, doubling our number of children but exponentially increasing our joy, but you will always be my special girl, the one that shares my middle name, my first baby. You light up my life, warm my heart, and fill my soul. I am so grateful to be your mother.
I love you very much.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
PS - One of my little "rewards" turns TWO on Friday. I'm working on her birthday letter. And by "working on" I mean that I've thought about it, freaked out for a moment, and then wiped up some spit up or other bodily fluid from one child or the other. (How much longer can I use having a baby as an excuse to not get much of anything done? I've got a while, right? RIGHT?)
Monday, November 7, 2011
This is a pretty accurate "before" shot, although I did do an artsy project and paint a bunch of different red, black, silver, and white "C"s and hang them over the bed. The jeans on the floor on Joe's side of the bed are also quite accurate. There's nothing wrong with the room, it just doesn't do anything for me. Yawn.
So as part of my Christmas list, I told Joe I wanted to finally do something about the room. I started looking for inspiration pictures on Pinterest and trying to pin down (HA) exactly what I wanted to change. But every room I liked had either white or black furniture and I just couldn't envision the room looking much different as long as we had this furniture. And we can't exactly afford a whole new bedroom set right now. Soooo...
We PAINTED it!
The transformation is not complete... we still have to paint the huge dresser that sits on the wall across from the bed, I think I'm going to take down the "C"s and put up a collage wall of black and white photos, I want to replace the lamps and the bedspread and my giant ugly alarm clock, move the hampers from the foot of the bed to somewhere that Joe's clothes might actually come in contact with them, put a bookshelf on the wall to the right for added storage options, etc. BUT it's a great start. We even managed to get the swirly carved thing off the headboard (and the dresser mirror) before we painted! I'm really happy with how it changes the look of the room so far and it's definitely motivated me to continue working to make the room somewhere I am proud of and enjoy being in. Here are a few more "during" photos...
Monday, October 31, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Let me start by telling you how lucky you are.
You have a father whose number one priority is providing for our family and whose greatest joy is seeing you and your sister grow and learn. You have the most amazing big sister; she wakes up in the morning asking where you are, spends the day bringing you pacifiers, teacups, and plastic hamburger buns, and gives you a kiss goodnight when she goes to bed. Your extended family is exactly that- an extension of our family. Days after meeting you they had already posted hundreds of pictures of you on facebook. They adore you and will support everything you do for the rest of your life. Even your dogs are awesome.
Now let me tell you how lucky I am.
Almost four weeks ago, I gave birth to you, my beautiful and healthy baby boy, weighing in at only an ounce less than your older sister. You made me a mother of "two under two". You've brought even more joy to an already joyful family and even more light into an already brilliant life. You have shown me your father and your sister in new roles that make me love them even more. You are teaching me every day about the kind of mother I want to be and the kind of mother I am capable of being.
I miss nights of continuous sleep and days of guaranteed showers. I could do without getting spit up on 7,000 times a day and changing 10 cloth diapers an hour. I'm not a fan of screaming gassy fits and 2 hour feeding schedules. But all of that pales in comparison to the love I feel for you and how very, truly, wonderfully happy I am that you are part of our family now.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
I've lost count of how many times I have started to write and then deleted my first sentence. Even this one sat, cursor blinking at the end, for a good few minutes before I decided I needed to just keep typing. I guess part of the problem is that I don't WANT it to have been yet another year. Another year means another layer of memory worn away by time, another year that I'm closer to being older than you ever were, another year of art and stories and jokes and pranks that never were and never will be.
But I guess that's not the way to look at it. One of your good friends (and mine) made the point that the way to recognize the day of your leaving us is to bring a little bit of you back for those who knew and loved you and share it with the people who were never lucky enough to do so. "Go make someone smile for absolutely no reason. Or find a reason to laugh until it hurts. Or just do something completely unexpected." And that is what you would have wanted, maybe even expected, us all to do.
I can't help but indulge in a selfish moment of sadness, though. For the loss of getting to know who you would have become in your 30s (and 40s and 50s and so on...). For my children, who will never know you. For my mother, for all that she endured eight years ago and so many days since then and all of the memories that haunt her, as they do so many others who were there that weekend. For the dancers and the artists and the actors and the students that miss your presence both onstage and off. For the bear hugs that I miss so very much... so very often... even now.
At least I know, though, that I have grown into a person over these last eight years that you would have wanted to know. You'd be proud of the woman I am becoming, the man that I married, the children I am raising. You'd be amazed by my sisters, and by the little girls you choreographed for and mentored and teased and loved so much, now all stunning and successful women. There's so much you would love about being here now. And there are so many of us who wish that you still were.
I love you.
"What has small balls and hangs down? ... Just answer the question. What has small balls and hangs down? Right, a bat. So what has big balls and hangs up?"
Monday, August 1, 2011
I love feeling you squirm and kick and roll and punch, watching my body morph as you grow. I love pulling out all of the little tiny onesies and hats and sleepers and sorting them into piles, figuring out what might fit you... wondering just how big you might be when you make your debut. I love seeing Laine start to understand about you, hugging and petting and talking to my belly, welcoming her little brother before she even sets eyes on you (oh, and she HAS tested some of your toys for you... hope that's ok). I love knowing where you are at all times, safe and sound and warm and happy and QUIET.
But, darling son, now that it's August? You can come out whenever you're ready.
I love you already, so very much.
PS - You have a very sweet face, little one.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Leaving the bedroom door open all night to be sure to hear those first little noises in the morning.
Timing your showers with an episode of Elmo's World.
Reading Sam and the Firefly 4,767 times. Which is probably about 4,765 more times than you actually wanted to.
Wanting to go in and watch your sweet sleeping one's face... but not as badly as wanting them to stay sweet and sleeping.
Relating to the parents of reality show contestants sometimes even more so than the contestants themselves (hey, proud mama crying in the audience... I totally feel ya).
Taking more pictures and videos over a year and half than the other 26 years of your life combined. And thinking everyone surely wants to look at them as much as you do.
Becoming fluent in toddler-ese.
Realizing a dream by driving home a Toyota Sienna, humming the "Swagger Wagon" song to yourself as you pull out of the lot (past all of the hot convertibles... which are just SO not practical right now).
Sunday, June 5, 2011
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
I got a sweet note from a friend after my last blog entry thanking me for being "real" on my blog. She said other bloggers (and I'm sure other moms on the playground and in books and magazines and on TV shows) sometimes made her feel that she is falling short of some "good mom" goal and she appreciated reading that someone else might not have it all together either but still managed to get by, maybe even joyfully.
Here's what I want to know: where are they?
Where are all of these "got it together" mamas that we hold ourselves up to and constantly, helplessly, obviously fall short of? I’m sure even those intimidating women I see at the gym with their huge rings and coordinating gym clothes and mammoth SUVs and daughters with matching hairbows feel like they are falling short somewhere. Because most of the women I talk to - real women with real children and lives and husbands and houses that get dirty and laundry that's not done and frozen pizza for dinner - rarely ever seem to feel that they've "got it together". But what does that mean? Where do we get the idea from that mothering has anything to do with being "together"? In my opinion, it has much more to do with just being PRESENT.
Shortly after reading my friend's message, I read another blog entry about very much the same thing. Another mom who might not have a house that looks like the photos in a Real Simple article, but who has identified priorities for herself and her children. Her post centers, to me, around this little snippet of wisdom:
"And then I remember what my most important parenting job is. And that is to teach my children how to deal with being human. Because most likely, that’s where they’re headed. No matter what I do, they’re headed towards being jacked-up humans faster than three brake-less railroad cars.There is really only one way to deal gracefully with being a jacked-up human, and that is this: Forgive yourself."
Can I get an "amen"? How can we teach our children how to gracefully navigate life, mistakes and all, if we pretend to never make them?
At the end of her entry, this blogger asks her readers to leave comments telling what makes them a good mom. Not what they need to fix or forget to do or think that the lady in front of them at carpool does better, but what they do well all on their very own. I think for me it is that I do recognize every day that I am not a perfect mother or wife or housekeeper. My living room rug is currently host to enough dog hair to cover another good sized dog and there is laundry on the bedroom floor that has been there for at least a day or two. I'm not sure what we're having for dinner and it may very well come out of the freezer. But I love my daughter. I love being her mother. She makes me laugh every single day. And what I am good at is allowing myself to fall short of perfect so that I can find joy in those fleeting moments. I’ve found that for me to be a happy, and therefore I think a “better” mother, it's more important to me to BE together than to HAVE IT together.
Happy Mother’s Day, mamas. You’re all awesome.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Today I got to be a single mom for a day since Joe went to Augusta for his cousin's med school hooding (YAY Kate!). MAD PROPS to all the single mamas out there. On days when I don't leave home early to teach Joe doesn't usually come home until 5:30ish anyway, but those few hours of having both of us home to share parenting duties is such a joy, not to mention a relief. I just like having someone else there to make decisions, even if it's just what to make Laine for dinner. It's also much harder to be a single CAR-LESS mom, but Laine and I rocked it out today and filled our afternoon with an impromptu playdate with one of her many gentleman callers, a walk to the park (on top of my hour and a half at the gym this morning... wham bam thank you MA'AM... and you bet your fanny I'm bragging on my walrus-y pregnant self), peanut butter and "chocolate" (nutella) for dinner, and a late bedtime because Mommy is a sucker for "again" when it comes to lullabies. I like days when I feel like I am on top of my mommy game, because I know our little world is about to be rocked in approximately 4 months time. Sometimes that seems like an eternity, but on days like this when I did most things right and got some exercise and took a nap and I can sink onto the couch exhausted and satisfied with a quietly sleeping toddler and a sink empty of dishes at 7:30 ready to watch some American Idol... I think 4 months might be just long enough.
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, May she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her
When crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels.
What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen. Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short - a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day - And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever, That she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back.
“My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I don't know how I feel about parents who find parenting to be depressing. I wonder if sometimes we do idealize the lifestyle, or perhaps look back on it when our children are grown with somewhat rose-tinted glasses. But don't we do that about everything? Was college really the "best time of our lives"? I think right now is pretty darn good in Casa Caldwell. And I think a great deal of why I am able to feel that way is because I know without a doubt that I am not doing everything right. I'm not feeding Laine flaxseed and quinoa everyday. I'm not reading every parenting book or following every guideline thrown at me by the pediatric association folks. I am not the perfect mom, but I enjoy my daughter and I try my best.
And I'm ok with that.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Of course I know that once BC2 is here we will adjust to the "new normal" of having two kids. Laine will never really remember a time before she was a big sister (I don't, and I was older than her when my sisters were born) and the guilt will fade as we learn how to balance their needs and divide time and attention between the two of them. But I knew the same things when I was pregnant with Laine: having a baby would be our "new normal", we would learn how to manage our time and keep our marriage a priority. But it was calming, refreshing, and encouraging to have shelves and websites full of expert advice and other people's experiences to guide me along the way and to remind me that other women- thousands and thousands of other women- have been through the very same things. I wonder why no one has capitalized on the needs and questions of all of us anxious, excited, terrified, and thrilled second time mothers?
Maybe it's time I wrote a book after all...
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
This year I was struck by the desire to bring the piece back to the stage. Seven years have passed and I knew that I had enough time and space from the events to be able to focus more on the dancing itself. I also had students that I trusted to take the dance and do with it what my friends had done years before. I felt that there was potential in the work and I also felt that I needed to "finish" it.
Explaining the story behind the dance to my students was very different from telling it to my friends the first time. I didn't cry this time, although I did find it difficult to look at their sweet, shocked, innocent faces as I told them the hardest parts. But I also told them what Jaime had meant to me, how fun and funny he was, what a talented and inspiring man he had been not only to me but to an entire community. While the dance was about the hardest part of my relationship with Jaime - the end of it - it was also about all that had come before. And in the end, it was about moving on from grief. I don't think I realized that the first time as I sat with a mascara-stained face in the wings of the Rome City Auditorium. Only seven months removed from the loss of one of my dearest friends, I felt that the intensity of my grief would be a permanent fixture in my life. The dance was a small outlet for that intensity, a release. But this time, as much as re-staging the dance was cathartic for me, it was also a gift to Jaime's memory, an homage to the joy we had shared in dancing together. And while I don't know that I will re-stage this dance again, I have learned that my grief is as much a work in progress as this dance was. I know I will probably cry watching my students perform this weekend, and part of that will be out of sadness for what I have lost. But another part with be pride; pride for making beauty out of sadness, hope from hopelessness, and finding creation even in loss.
Monday, February 7, 2011
As you grow up, you will develop a long and ever-growing list of words to identify yourself. Some will be adjectives, but some of the most important will be nouns. For now, besides being funny and smart and stubborn, you are a daughter, granddaughter, toddler, and our firstborn. You added mother to my list a few years after your father added wife, on top of pre-existing words that I share with you: daughter, granddaughter, and, of course, firstborn. Because not only was I always a sister (at least for as long as I can remember), I was an older sister. An oldest. A first.
Darling daughter, in a matter of months you are going to add a very important noun to your list. One of the most important words you will ever define yourself with until you get married and have children of your own.
You, my baby girl, my first child, my daughter, are going to be a sister.
I can't wait to see you in this new role in your life and watch the things that you will share with your little baby brother or sister. While I am certainly anxious about having a baby less than two years younger than you, seeing what an amazing little girl you have become and are becoming every day eases my mind. Knowing how easy it has been to love you and to be your mother assures me that I will only find more love and more joy in mothering you and your sibling.
I know there will be difficult moments for the both of us. There will be disruption to our routine, exhaustion, jealousy, frustration, and confusion. But there will also be so much joy, my girl, and in no small part thanks to you and the light you constantly bring to everyone around you.
And even though you are adding this new special word to your life- sister- you are still and will always be my daughter. My oldest.
I love you,
Monday, January 31, 2011
"Punkin, you're going to need a bath tonight! You are DIRTY!"
"Dirty!" she parroted. Clear as a bell.
Joe and I looked at each other wide-eyed.
"Did you hear that?" I asked him and Laine piled books into my lap.
"Yeah. She said dirty."
"Sometimes she just... astounds me." I murmured.
As soon as I said it I realized how true it was. Even though she has been mimicking words and learning new ones every day for months, there are moments when she looks at me and says something new and sounds so self-assured, so smart, so much like a big girl! Or I see her trotting down the hall to her room flapping her arms or carrying a book and marvel at how tall she is, how confident, how much of a big girl! Or I ask her to pick out a new book or go get her baby or take a drink of milk and she DOES it and I laugh a little to think that I am actually talking WITH my daughter instead of just TO her. And that soon she will be talking back in more than just parroted words... and then eventually, not long enough from now probably, she will be talking BACK to me. (That is one phase I am in no rush to get to.)
I know as she gets older (taller, BIGGER) that she will continue to get smarter, more confident, more self-sufficient... and I will continue to be more and more astounded.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Almost as remarkable as how much we forget as mothers is how much we remember.
We remember a whole new human. Their birthday (down to the minute), how much they weigh and how many inches long they are and how they rank compared to other growing little ones, the foods they like and the ones they throw at you in frustration and disgust, the words they know, the names of their friends (and the words they know and when they walked and ohmygodismybabybehindthatbabyamIaterribleparent?) and when the next playdate is. The words to the books you read over and over (and over) again, from Goodnight Moon to Yummy Yucky to My First Book of Colors. We remember how to translate "Sdat" to "What's that?" and we remember that it's important to try and answer every time, even when we've already told them too many times to count. We remember how much we've forgotten.
And then we remember to thank God that we live in the age of digital photography.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Laine update, you ask? Well certainly.
Laine is a TODDLER, y'all. It's amazing to me how she has changed in the few short months since her birthday. She is walking/almost running everywhere now and picking up speed and confidence daily. She adds words to her vocabulary constantly and is becoming quite the proficient little parrot (which means Joe and I really need to watch what we say now! yikes...). She's still taking two naps but I think we're sneaking up on a transition to one (yikes again). She eats "table food" almost exclusively, loves her milk and (watered down but don't tell her that) juice in a sippy cup. She still loves her books more than anything and will get me to read to her for hours. She cracks up laughing- sometimes so hard that she falls over- when we add "sound effects" to her books, especially sneezes, "ouch", and "yucky" sounds. She is independent and bright, joyful and friendly, frustrating and delightful. In short, she is everything I would have asked for in a daughter and then some. How lucky am I?
Monday, January 10, 2011
Oh and really... how stinkin' adorable is she?