Archive | March, 2012

Easter Time

30 Mar

Easter is upon us. I love how the promise of new beginnings and the sense of the world renewing fills my spirit with hope. To me, Easter is much more the beginning of a new year than January first will ever be.

Maybe it is because the day Abigail was born just happened to be Easter that year. Our little Easter bunny we called her. She bounced into our lives and made our family something entirely new. She has often been the catalyst for good and healthy changes, as parents and as people.

She will be turning two in a few days. I’m a little wistful that it will mark the end of her babyhood, but it feels right. Next week we will celebrate that new beginning as she becomes an official toddler. It’s time.

Looking back over the two years we’ve shared I can see that it hasn’t always been easy. I’ve had some desert moments, maybe some would refer to them as tests of your resolve. But those days have not been without a beautiful oasis filled with sparkling moments, Abigail.

She is a wonderous soul, loving and inquisitive.

She is focused and determined.

She is a mighty force to be reckoned whose twinkly laughter falls around us like stardust.

She is the greatest joy of our life.

And for that, I give thanks to God.

For sharing her with us, giving us the opportunity to experience hope, promises, and love in a brand new way.


Bolivian Llama

26 Mar

Two weeks ago Abigail and I fell in love with a book called, Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. If you haven’t read it, it’s perfect for the toddler set with colorful, fun illustrations and minimal text that still tells a complete and relevant story.

In it Little Llama has trouble falling asleep, we’ve been there.  We could relate.  It was one of those books she wanted to read over and over and over and over and over and…you get the idea.  It was also one of those books that I didn’t mind reading over and over.  I just loved looking at it and reading it.

We returned it to the library.  We’ll get it again, but I loved it so much I kind of wanted another kid to find it and love it, too.  Besides, we picked another llama book to read a bazillion times.

The other day Ryan pointed out to Abigail that a llama llama lives with us.  It’s a picture he took and it’s one of my favorites.  After his trip to Bolivia in 2009 he had lots of beautiful photographs. He had a couple of different ones in mind to hang up, but I wanted the llama.  He’s a good man.  I got my way.

I’ve looked at this llama a lot.  It’s hanging in our dining area and we just happen to spend a lot of time dining because Abigail takes FOR-EV-ER to eat.  (I just know she’s going to be one of those kids that comes home from her first day of Kindergarten with her entire lunch uneaten because she didn’t understand the concept of 25 minutes.)  ANYWAY.  Back to the llamas at hand.  Cue the segue.

Today, I had what I like to call a moment of creative genius.  I think you know where I am going with this.

Oh yes.

I totally did.

May I present my personal interpretation of: Llama Llama Red Pajama.

I thought it was just hilarious.  So incredibly funny.  A “BAHAHA” moment.

“It’s really not that funny, Mom.”

“Seriously.  You are so embarrassing.”

My kids didn’t appreciate me.  “Abigail!  It’s llama llama red pajama!  Look!”


Still nothing.

At this point I am laughing so hard I can’t even stand it.

I mean, look at that thing.

FINALLY, Abigail notices me doubled over with laughter and turns around to see what’s so funny.

And it totally made her smile.

Wow.  I need to get out more.

Toddlers and Tiaras

21 Mar


That’s the sound I wake up to every morning. Before this phase, we would most often be awakened by screaming. There was no snooze button on Abigail’s internal alarm clock. I prefer this new way. It’s softer, sweeter, and actually makes me get out of bed faster. Maybe it’s something about her needing to know that I’m around, that I hear her. She says it like a question. “Mommy?” Are you there?

It makes me bolt out of bed and hurry. Yes. I’m right here.

It’s not just in the morning, she “Mommy’s” all day long. There’s excited to see me “Mommy!” and the hysterical “MOMMY!” if she’s been hurt. “Mommy, hand” when she wants to play or have a snack or show me something. And my favorite, “Mommy, cozy” for cuddles.

Sometimes it feels like a finger poking me all day. Sometimes I want to say, “What?!” “What is it now?” or “Enough already!” I’m human.

I try not to because right now she’s my biggest fan. I realize what a prize it is to be handed this award. But I’m not so naive to believe it will always be this way. It won’t be. Down the road is Amazing, her best friend. And Ms. Fantastic, the coolest teacher ever. And, please no, but probably, Shiny Superstar, the latest and greatest Disney star. There will be all of these other people that she looks up to and wants to be like and hang out with. I hope they really are as great as she thinks they are, but I can’t control all of that.

What I want is for her to have this strong foundation of love and support and self worth. You are loved. You are important. We trust you. I want her to have all of this before we are cheering her on from the sidelines. I want to give her this now so that it’s our voices she hears the clearest from afar. Maybe this will help soften the eventual blows and falls that come from that outside world. The ones you can’t control despite being crowned “Best Mommy Ever” by your adoring fan for your brief reign during her toddler years.

Her hair can go in a high pony now and she says Elmo instead of “Baboo.” Small changes, really, but signs of what’s to come. I’m pretty sure that the high pony alone is an indication that exasperated, annoyed, and embarrassed “Mom”s will be added to her vocabulary.

I’m going to let the “exasperated, annoyed, and embarrassed-by-her-Mom Abigail” go on down the road a little lot — like to the point where Amazing, Ms. Fantastic, and Shiny Superstar can be there to help deal with all of that.

For now I’m going to just cruise along proudly wearing the glittering tiara Abigail has so graciously given me — even if wearing this crown means nothing more than I win a whole lot of poking, food stealing, and repetitive singing.

I’m totally okay with that.
Right now, in her mind, we are all she needs. We are enough.
And that makes being “Mommy” enough.

Party Animals

19 Mar

If you’ve known me for more than 10 minutes, whether as an online acquaintance or real life pal, you know that Hank is an important part of our family.

Like most families with pets, we treat Hank like he is one of us.  He is s-p-o-i-l-e-d.  His inner core is made up of sugar and sweetness.  He drives us crazy.  We sometimes complain about how disgusting or annoying he can be, but it’s all in good fun.  Now all the rest of you.  Don’t even try and criticize my big bear.  Like I said, he’s family.  We can talk about him but you can’t.

So in the spirit of family traditions we always celebrate him for his birthday.  Hank turned 3 on March 16th.

And because Hank loves walks and Abigail is napping, we’ll take a walk down memory lane.  (I get my cheesy sense of humor from my mom.  It’s one of my finer qualities, I think.)

Believe it or not Hank was smallish once — for a couple of weeks when we first got him.  Back then he was still giving unwanted kisses and sleeping a lot.  Some things never change.

By the time his first birthday rolled around I was 8 months pregnant with Abigail.  I don’t know who was bigger at that point.

Our family looked a lot different when his second birthday arrived.

This year we were up in Portland dropping off our visitors at the airport and hanging out at the zoo when Hank turned 3.  He didn’t mind though.  He was living the good life with Asia and Olivia and their awesome backyard.

Abigail and I threw him a party today.  We brushed him for 30 whole minutes and gave him peanut butter in his Kong.  Then we put on party hats and I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to get a good picture.

Sometimes it really is the small things in life that make life special.  Or in our case – the big things.

Happy Birthday, Hanky “Good Boy.”  We love you!



18 Mar

I don’t know how many generations we’d be – this special friendship between the women in two families.  It doesn’t really matter though.  More generations wouldn’t it make it any more fantastic than it already is.

There’s my mom with her nieces, Kathy & Becky, the best example I’ve ever had of friendship between women.  It’s supportive, honest when needed, and always kind and loving.  When I personally faced a rough friendship patch early in my teens it was Becky who picked up my bruised soul, bandaged my wings, and helped me fly again.  Becky and Kathy both have daughters that my sisters and I watched grow up, love to pieces, and are now at the point where every time I see them they are less like kids and more like friends.

Last week, two people in this friendship family tree came out to see us, which resulted in a double whammy of happiness.  My sister and Becky’s baby, Laura, flew out.

We curled up on the couch when it was rainy and talked girl talk.

We ate around our table family style.

We played in rain and snow.  So much snow.  So much rain.

We chased a very spoiled toddler.

And I got to see our beautiful Oregon coast in my very favorite way – through the eyes of a newbie.

And when they were gone I wasn’t the only one in tears.  Abigail cried too.  “Ehmy!  Waura!”

We cried big, fat alligator tears together and we were sad.  But I was happy, too.  Another generation, another blessed girl was being taken by the arms of many down a beautiful road of friendship.

Trail Blazer

9 Mar

It was sunny, Abigail was in the stroller, Hank beside me. We walked around so Hank could sniff out the ultimate spot to do his business.

A truck drove slowly past and stopped about halfway down the jetty. A man got out and waded through the brush and grass that edges the road. After a few minutes he returned to his idling truck.

That’s a little strange. I thought.

We started to jog, approaching the truck that was still sitting in the middle of the road.

“M’am?” the man called from his window. Hank alert beside me. I could see his whole family in the truck.


“Just saw a coyote walking over there. I managed to chase him back into the bushes, but thought you should be aware.”

“Oh. Thanks…”

I didn’t know what to do. Part of me selfishly wanted to log these miles, part of me was really freaking out.

“We’ll follow you out to make sure you are safe.”

I should have been thinking how this is the stuff Lifetime movies are made of, but instead I was worried about my bouncing behind.

We reached the main road and the truck and I parted ways. I got about a half mile in when I stopped and dialed Ryan.

“Ryan, will you come rescue me?” I said in what might have been a slightly high pitched, whiny voice.

“Yes. What’s wrong.” Laughter.

“This family just saw a coyote on the jetty and I just kept running, but I think I should have turned around.  And now I’m stuck and I have our baby and what if the coyote attacks us while we are running back and I have the baby and I’m just kind of scared. I don’t want to see a coyote…can we move?”



“You have a 140 pound dog with you. Coyotes are like 40 pounds. I’m pretty sure that will put a damper on any coyote attack plans. Hank will just do what he does when he sees any other dog. And no, we aren’t moving.”

“You mean act crazy and dart across to say hello while the stroller almost tips over? Please just come and pick me up. I’ll just keep running around here. Then, you can park beside the van and leave your car. Then, get in the van and come pick all of us up and I’ll drop you back off at your car.”

“Wait, what?”

I explained my masterminded plan again while Ryan laughed and said, “I love you.” He was on his way.

Perfect. We started jogging again but I was irritated. Just last summer a cougar had been spotted near the bike path that I used to run. So, I pretty much stopped doing that for a very long time, renaming it cougar trail in my training log and putting a smiley face to mark my bravery when I actually did it. Now coyotes, too? It made me think about how great it would be to run free in suburbia without the fear of bright yellow park notice signs popping up on trail heads to let you know about the latest wild animal sighting.

I groaned a little at myself. Why did I worry so much? Why was I letting the chance of something ruin a favorite running place? But it wasn’t Oregon or the cougar or the coyote. I was getting in the way of my own happiness. I knew that if I didn’t face my fear right then, I would stew about it until it turned into something bigger than it was, like cougar trail.

I circled back and ran towards the jetty. Six tenths of a mile stood between me and conquering this fear. I saw two other runners, debated against screaming “There’s a coyote!” and played it cool. It was the longest six tenths of a mile I have ever run, but I did it.

I was still catching my breath and stretching when Ryan pulled up. He was in shock.

“Yeah, baby!” he said with a grin. “I’m proud of you.”

I didn’t need him to be, I was proud enough of myself, but it was nice.

Some people have this natural ease about things that really hold me back. I worry. A lot. It stands in my way. When other people say, “I won’t see a coyote or a cougar. I’m tough. I’m brave. The chances are slim.” I say, “That coyote is going to jump out any minute, rip my arm off, and take my baby.” Totally ridiculous, right?

No one wants to be the wet blanket. But for me this isn’t about anyone else. It’s about taking control, being positive, and being brave. And I think I’ve been hella brave if I really examine the last year and a half. I’ve come a long way.

My sister and cousin arrive tomorrow. When Emily was here last year I was a weepy mess. This year will be different because I’m a little different. I’m knocking out those beasts and marking my small victories with a trail of smileys. Cougar trail. Coyote trail. Life trail. Blazing my own trail. Of happiness.


6 Mar

Last night I was watching Bethenny Ever After and Ryan was reading on his phone next to me. The episode was full of shorts, swim suits, and Bethenny’s baby soaking up summer. “Do you feel like Abigail is missing out sometimes?”

“What do you mean?” Ryan looked up.

“Like seasons, for example. Do you think it’s sad that Abigail doesn’t really get to experience the different seasons?”

“Look at how crappy* and crowded that beach is,” he said with a smile nodding to the scene on the television, “I don’t think she’s missing out. She’ll have seasons again one day and when she does she’ll appreciate them more.”

(*Clarification: The beach wasn’t crappy. My husband just knows I like it when he says stuff like that because it makes me feel better. He’s a keeper.)

We woke up this morning with a special treat on the calendar. Susie was coming over for breakfast and bringing her animal waffle maker, too.

We love waffles around here. We love Susie, too. And animal waffles with Susie was just too much – so the sky exploded with snowflakes…for two seconds.

Hank took a break from drooling to alert us that the Fed-Ex man was here. (Sorry about the barking and enormous black furball flinging himself at the window, Fed-Ex Man.) A package!

“Can I have a waffle now for being such a good boy and scaring that bad guy away?”

It was the 2010 photobook family album Ryan had painstakingly put together over many months. He combed through all of our photos from what was probably the biggest year of our life and arranged them in layouts to document our year.

It was beautiful and so much fun to look at, “unforgettable,” being the word Ryan picked to describe the year.

Ryan can be a man of few words, but he knows what’s up. I love that about him.

Afterwards, Susie and I took Abigail for a walk in her too big boots.

I have no idea how those boots were staying on.

I told Susie about the seasons thing.  She listened because she’s good at that.  I can’t remember what wise thing she said in reply because I was too busy noticing that I looked taller than her.  In real life, I’m not taller than Susie.  Not even close.

We might not have all the seasons, but we’ve got squishy ground and super-sized puddles – friends and each other.

Ryan’s right about this one. Abigail isn’t missing out. She isn’t sitting on the sidelines of life bummed about not wearing a bathing suit or shorts. She’s full on starting this game, making memories and having fun.

And you know what? So are we.