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28 weeks

February 21, 2012

28 weeks of this pregnancy is a bit of a milestone for me.  Little Friend arrived on the scene at 34 weeks after I passively fought a bed-rest battle against severe pre-eclampsia for four weeks.  I’m trying (really, really trying) to keep my head in a happy place through this pregnancy as I’m praying (really, really praying) that we’ll avoid the dreaded disease this time around.  But somehow, making it to 28 weeks pregnant, a gestation at which babies can be born and thrive with some extensive NICU help, feels like a safe-ish place, even if the dreaded-case scenario develops in the coming hours/days/weeks/months ahead.

This morning, I came downstairs with an extra spring in my 28-weeks’ steps and informed Big Friend that today marked the 28-week finish line.

We high-fived.

Then, as I walked away, something about my retreating derriere prompted Big Friend to say, “Hey!  It’s Fat Tuesday today!”

Hmmm . . . I’m trying not to read too far into that comment.

It does create a rather inconvenient craving for donuts.

Donuts which I’m sure will settle nowhere near the vicinity of my derriere.

Happy 28 weeks to me (and Little One).



February 17, 2012

I think of the child playing in the sand, a few feet from the ocean wave’s reach.  The child whose fingers form the hourglass for sand and minutes to trickle through.  The child who is caught unaware by the ocean’s greedy grasp for more beach front.  The child who is sent tumbling, sputtering, splashing by the rogue wave.

That’s the way delight washes over me these days.  I am unsuspecting.  Unaware.  And then it engulfs me.  Knocks me off balance.

Sometimes it’s the nothing-short-of-infectious cluster of chortles that effervesce from Little Friend’s belly.

Sometimes it’s the hopeful eyes that lock onto mine: “Mama, you be Piglet, and I’ll be Pooh.”

Sometimes it’s the way my body rocks a bit in bed when Little One launches him/herself against the sides of the womb-world.

Sometimes it’s the promise of snowflakes from a sky that has been nothing but stingy with white gifts this year.

Sometimes it’s the smell of dinner–butter, onions, spice–that creeps through the whole house.

Sometimes it’s a blog comment that makes me want to reach through my computer screen to hug the fingers that typed the words.

I’m so grateful for the simple power of delight.  How it can knock me out of my nesting craze, worry over dinner, or rush to make it to the evening meeting after dinner has been made-carted to table-carted away from table-stacked on kitchen counter-migrated to dishwasher for a do-over tomorrow.

I’m so grateful that delight is more powerful than worry.  More powerful than doubt.  More powerful than the “to do” list.

Delight is a sneaky surprise.

And it’s delightful every time it bowls me over.

This post is inspired by and shared with Gypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday.

i want something

February 16, 2012

“I don’t like this Valentine’s Day card.”

“I’m not fond of cleaning up.”

“That does not make me happy.”


“But I want something!”

Yesterday, I begged Big Friend to take Little Friend to work with him for the day.  Just as a little Valentine’s Day present to me.  He laughed.  Did he think I was kidding?  Fortunately, he read my mood and offered to spend an hour cleaning up the kitchen after our filet-mignon-risotto-asparagus dinner.

Have I given you a glimpse of the zeitgeist around here these days?  Three words–double ear infection.

People, I had no idea.  Are those two floppy appendages on the sides of our head really this critical to the overall mood of a teeny-tiny tot?

Also, I had no idea “Mommy” could be stretched into seven syllables at a certain timbre and pitch that punches bloody holes in my own eardrums.

In addition, I had no idea how short a fuse I could have when a veteran whiner is in my vicinity.

Finally, fair warning, I’ll weep when the next person tells me, “If you think this is bad, just wait until you get to the teenage years.”

We’re here already folks.  That does not make me happy!

Here’s wishing you a truly happy, ear-infection-free, belated Valentine’s Day.

Not sure what I’m doing next.  I just suggested a stroller ride to Little Friend, and I got, “That wouldn’t make me happy either.”

If your eardrums aren’t bleeding, they should be.

Here’s hoping for sunnier days ahead…

win some, lose a lot

February 8, 2012

“I want to drink my chocolate milk, but I do not want to cooperate.”

I hadn’t planned on having this time slot open in my schedule for writing.  I’d blocked off the morning for a trip to the library.  Picture me and Little Friend snuggling with a pile of books, the warm tick of a library’s heater, at the window a few meager snowflakes making a valiant attempt to rally for the season.  Isn’t that a lovely fairy tale?

In reality the picture was more like this: Little Friend, racing at top speeds from the potty (unused), declaring her intentions to drink chocolate milk and do anything but cooperate at peeing before heading to the car.  Me, racing at waddling pregnancy speeds from the bathroom to corral the little imp before stopping, mule-like, in the middle of the hallway as a dim bulb ignites above my head.  “Hey, Little Friend.  You’re welcome to drink your chocolate milk.  You don’t have to cooperate.  But it’s not my style to play with little girls who don’t cooperate.  I’ll just have fun doing what I want to do this morning, too.”

So I’m writing.  And she’s somewhere with a cup of chocolate milk.  Playing with race cars.  Singing nonsense songs.  Turning lights on and off.  Wondering what lucky star blessed her with such freedom.  I keep waiting for boredom to set in.  For the lesson to be learned: “Cooperating with Mama makes for a Funner Mama.”

She’s not learning yet.

Instead, I just heard from the recesses of the house the following ditty: “…One for the little boy who lives down the lane.  One nation under God.  Indivisible.  With Olivia and dusting for all.  Hey, Mama—you’re supposed to put your hand over your heart.”

So she’s clearly learning something these days.  Just not my intended lessons.

Yesterday, Little Friend was persuaded to employ the potty to good purpose before heading out for a morning excursion to…Kindergarten at Cochran Elementary School.

Prior to this field trip, the sum total of Little Friend’s understanding of Kindergarten went something like this: “I have to get shots before I go to Kindergarten.”  She may have two years of preschool still ahead of her, but it’s apparently never too early to worry about the poking and prodding of syringes.  Fortunately for Little Friend, her Aunt Julia is a cracker-jack Kindergarten teacher who likes having little visitors now and then.

{Little Friend update: she’s now sliding along on her bottom, sucking her thumb using the favorite tag from a ruffled pink sweatshirt, and whining because I’m no longer a fun playmate.  I’m winning.}

When Little Friend walked into the Kindergarten classroom, her eyes had to widen in diameter about two inches to take in the crowd of kids twitching like eager popcorn kernels on the colored squares in front of the Smart Board.

Aunt Julia scooped up Little Friend and carried her to the front of the class.  “Kindergartners, do you know who this is?”  “ISABELLE” came the roar from the crowd.  Apparently Little Friend has some fans here and there.

{Little Friend update: she’s now back in her room.  Singing.  Making crashing sounds with who knows what.  She sounds happy.  I’m losing.}

Little Friend rose to the occasion.  She sang her ABCs.  She ignored the little girl in the front row who protested at the mis-rendered “Now I know Your ABCs” at the end.  She dutifully told the captive crowd a tale of her cat pooping on the dining room carpet.  The boys in the crowd squawked and tittered at the word “poop.”  Little Friend is still too young and sheltered to get potty humor, so she gave them an odd, dismissive look, and kept right on telling the story, which necessitated using the word “poop” in just about every sentence.

{Little Friend update: she’s dragged a drum out of her room and informed me, “You can be Winnie the Pooh, and I’ll be Christopher Robin.”  I retort, “No thanks.  I’m not playing right now.  You chose for me to do my own things.” Winning.  She pauses.  “Well, I’ll just pretend that you’re Pooh and I’m Christopher Robin.” She pounds the drum right next to my ear.  Losing.}

Little Friend got to walk the Kindergarten kids to art class.  She made guest appearances in other classrooms.  “Don’t forget that I handed out lunch cards, Mama.”  Sure.  She did that, too.

{Little Friend update: I now have a drum, flute, and tambourine parked right next to me.  She’s a one-woman band.  My peace is shattered.  “Watch.  I can stand on the drum.”  I think she’s actually having fun with minimal participation from yours truly.  I’m dreaming of a nice, snuggly library corner with a pile of books I haven’t yet read a gazillion times.  Still losing.}

I watch her dig through the pile of Kindergarten books—the kind of books that have five large words to each page and feature animals like fluffy dogs, pigs wearing dresses, and three nice wolves.  I watch her pick out letters I didn’t know she recognized on an iPad filled with fun Kindergarten games.  I watch her step up on a stool and stretch her arm up high to “write” on the SmartBoard.  Just like the Kindergartners do.  Little Friend’s favorite part?  “I like that Aunt Julia was at Kindergarten.”

I don’t want to think much yet about Kindergarten shots, lunch cards, and leaving my precious Little Friend for a whole day.  Yet, there’s something about walking into a school that makes me silly, giddy, happy.  All the learning, the smells of pencil erasers, the brightly colored bulletin boards with block letters, the tiny voices piping the alphabet song in unison (at least until the disagreement comes over “Now I know my/your ABCs…”).  I love it and miss it and can’t wait until Little Friend does more than just visit for an hour in the morning.

Especially on days like today.  When uncooperating somehow becomes more fun than cooperating.  Plus, I just realized something.  Who’s going to make Little Friend pick up the chaotic mess of race cars-instruments-blocks-books-Strawberry Shortcake-tools-clothes-stacking games-letters-crayons-milk cups created in the 23 minutes I’ve taken as my “personal time?”  Definitely, definitely Losing.  Someone around here is learning something today.  I just wish it weren’t me!

happy birthday, big friend

January 30, 2012

Dear Big Friend,

Little Friend and I will dash to the store in a few minutes in search of the perfect present for you.  Little Friend is admanant about the perfect gift: rubber snakes and a magnifying glass.  These things are dear to her heart.  We know you’ll love them, too.  Like father, like daughter.

Over a birthday breakfast this morning, you informed me that you celebrated the calendar page turning over on a new year alone and cold in the wee hours of the morning.  After sleepwalking to the attic and laying down in the frigid guest suite, you slept for a stretch, leeching body heat into the winter night’s bottomless need for warmth, until you woke up enough to realize it was 2:15 am and a warm, soft bed awaited you downstairs in your very own bedroom.

What does it mean to start a new year of life in this manner?  I wonder.

You redeemed the day at breakfast when Little Friend insisted you open a present while she crooned “Happy Birthday” over a plate of eggs and bacon.  The untidily wrapped box revealed the perfect gift from thoughtful, dear friends: a box of Fruit Loops.  It’s big, sugary, red, and all your own.  Minus the small bowl demanded be shared with Little Friend.  After you left for work, she tilted her bowl bottoms-up and slurped every last sip of cereal milk.  Like father, like daughter.

I don’t find it easy to plan an adult’s birthday party.  With maturity, we seem to shed the thrills and joys of simple things: balloons, candles, songs, silly hats, pony rides.  It’s easier to fete a little person.  But it’s no less important to fete a big person.

I want to celebrate your endless stream of energy, your ability to drive a hard bargain past procrastination to do the things first that you dread the most, your way of hanging adoringly to every syllable uttered by Little Friend’s mouth, your dedication to me and this life we’re charting a course through together.   I want to celebrate your quirky love of knowledge (and subsequent quizzes on Gordian knots, as failed by yours truly), your twelve-year-old-boy sense of humor (that gets you giggling over a birthday card with a corny pun about pigs in construction clamps), your consternation over why anyone would ever own a home phone.

But I fall short.

Somehow, I spend a week thinking your birthday is Tuesday instead of Monday.  I forget to unearth the “Happy Birthday” sign from storage.  I neglect shopping for rubber snakes and magnifying glasses until the day of.  I fall short of the celebration you deserve.

Normally, I would just blame my all-too apparent inadequacies and work harder next time.  But I’m hitting my pause button today.  I’m going to stop the self-flagellation for a minute, because I think I’m onto something here: maybe as we grow older, we get bigger, and better, and greater, and so much harder to celebrate fully in a single day.  Maybe we outgrow the balloons, candles, songs, silly hats, and pony rides in greatness, not in years.  Maybe this is how God sees us: so amazingly, wonderfully, and perfectly made that we’re worth remembering and celebrating not on a single day of the year but actually worth dying for–redeeming a life for–each and every day.

If I’m right, then Happy Birthday are too teeny-tiny of words to express how grateful I am you are in my life.  Today, and every day.

Then again, considering your excitement over Little Friend’s “Happy Birthday” karaoke, a cheesy card, and a bowl of sugary breakfast cereal, maybe we don’t grow up all that much after all.  Just give me a day to arrange the silly hats and pony rides.  I’m still thinking your birthday’s tomorrow…

I love you,

a tender moment

January 27, 2012

You know that moment when words fly out of your mouth, and you see them darting away into the atmosphere, irretrievable, and wish a little string trailed after them so you could haul them back like some erstwhile kite to clutch tightly to yourself?

I felt that way two nights ago.

I said, “Do you want to have a sleepover?”

I clutched at a string that wasn’t there, horrified at what I’d done.  I knew the second that question smacked Little Friend’s ear, there was no turning back.  We were going to have a sleepover.  Me, Little Friend, and my bed.

I could blame Big Friend for being away on a week’s business trip.  I could blame the vast expanse of new, luxurious mattress that was just begging to be shared by someone.  But really, the person who is to blame was indeed the one who paid.


First, I staked claim to 1/5 of the luxurious new California King mattress, leaving the remaining 4/5 to a child who weighs less than one of my thighs.  Then, I shared my thigh with someone else’s leg, which just. needed. to. be. there.  Then I tried to “scoot over” someone, but was told in no uncertain sleepy terms, “NO!!!!  NO SCOOTING OVER!!!”  Then there was the period at 4-bleary-30-am when someone sat bolt upright and announced “I’m hungry.”

Then came the moment when I woke up for the morning.

I heard the bird’s-whistle breathing change beside me into something softer, more sibilant.  Then from behind the drawn drapes of my eyelids, I sensed a dark form rise beside me.

Then came the tenderest moment.

A small hand brushed my shoulder, then my cheek.  A pat.  A caress.  A tangible “I love you” written on my cheek.  Words and handprint that I want tattooed there permanently.  Words that I clutch after, futilely attempting to draw them back by invisible string.

The best way to start a morning.  Ever.

It {almost} makes up for how dog-tired I am today.

This post is shared with The Gypsy Mama’s Five-Minute-Fridays.

she’s got legs

January 17, 2012

There are just a few wisps of baby cocoon clinging to Little Friend’s rapidly spreading pre-schooler wings.  The other day, Big Friend and I realized that another sizable chunk of cocoon had fallen off.

Somehow, somewhere, Little Friend has shot up in height.

She’s got legs.

Tall, lean, muscular legs.  Legs that propel her at mach speeds around the mall playland.  Legs that spring uninhibited to leap three steps in a single bound.  Legs that stick knobby angles beyond the frayed edges of her size 2T pants.

If she’s lucky, she’ll have inherited Big Friend’s legs.  They’re kinda his sexiest feature.   And I just totally embarrassed him by writing that for the world to see.  All the same, she’ll be lucky.

If she’s unlucky, she’ll have inherited my short stumps of legs.  Legs that reliably allowed me to come in dead last on the 200 meter dash and hurdles.  No one on my track team asked where I had disappeared to when I gracefully retired with stress fractures.

So far, Little Friend seems to be stretching into the stratosphere on legs all of her own independent, strong-willed, convicted making.

You’d think I would have noticed my baby disappearing in more obvious ways–facial features elongating, tubby tummy flattening, fingers learning the dexterity of buttons and zippers.

But no.  It’s the legs that have somehow kicked a bruise in my heartstrings.

Have I mentioned, this gal’s got legs?

That’s all I wanted to say today folks.  My baby’s in shreds and my toddler’s in full-grow(ing) glory.  If you need me, look first for Little Friend sprinting by.  I’ll be huffing along a bit later, dead last in this race toward growing up.