A letter to my baby girl on her 5th birthday.

Dear Amelia,

In the morning you will wake up and be five years old.  I can hardly believe that you, my baby, are five! 

Having already gone through this with your sister, I know that being five is very magical.  You have words and thoughts about the world that amuse and astonish me every day.  You see the beauty and kindness in everyone and everything.  You are gentle and kind and loving and think the best of every person, child or adult, that you encounter.

This morning, you got into bed with me.  Sleep was still in your eyes.  You wrapped your arms around my neck; your legs around my hips and your eyelashes went right back to their place on the very tops of your cheeks.  You were not ready to be awake.  I watched you.  Did you know that?  I counted the tiny freckles on your nose.  I watched your chest rise up and down and I felt your dimpled hands in my hair and on my cheek. 

I prayed to God that the moment would never end.

My baby, born in a quick rainstorm.  Born in silence.  You didn’t cry when you were born.  Have I ever told you that?  You were wide-eyed and silent.  Breathing.  Perfect.  Content.  Wanting nothing more than to be in arms, safe.  Loved.

I worried over you.  Cried over you.  Noted to all that would listen how much you looked like your brother.  Wondered about you.  Coddled you.  Nursed you until my body couldn’t take one more minute.  Slept near you because your sweet breath was what got me through the long nights for far too long.

Even now, five years later, I wish you could stay a baby forever.  You will always be my baby, of course.  That was decided for us and you fill the role.

I find it ironic that my baby has so many babies of her own.  That, at five years old, she has decided that she will care for babies (“I’m going to be a baby doctor when I grow up or just a people doctor so I can take care off all the peoples in the families!”) and that she loves all babies, alive or plastic, equally.

I want to capture the moments of focus and seriousness when one of your babies needs you.  Or when Ella is hurt.  Or when I am sad.  I wish I could bottle the goodness in your heart and spray a little on me every day like perfume because I know it would bless the world with love and kindness.  I wish I was capable of loving who you love, without reserve or complaint or notice. 

There is one more wish in my heart tonight, the night I remember best; the night you were working to be born.  I wish you could stay my baby forever.

I know it is a wish that won’t come true.  It can’t.  All little children grow up, even when their parents wish for something different.  I wish you could stay my baby forever.

Remember this: you were born in silence, in perfection and in the rain.  You are part of a magic moment, if only in *my* heart.  And I love you. 

I love who you are.  And I love that you are who you are despite, and because of, who I am.  And everything we have done.  And everything that has happened to us.  And everything we will be.  You are my baby whether you are five or twenty-five.  You bring joy and love to everyone you meet.  Especially to me.

Happy 5th birthday, sweetheart.

Love,

Mama

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Killing me softly.

“Mama…mama…mama…”  I’m driving.  I’m ignoring.  I’m tired coming home from the gym one day about a week ago.  “Mama!”

Yes Amelia?  (I am fighting the urge to say WHAT?!?”) ( Thank you stage management training.)

“Mama, what’s a salami?”

A salami?  I am contemplating explaining encased meats to a four-year old.  Aunt Becky knows what I’m talking about.  I do love encased meats.  Salami, kielbasa, Hormel cheese wranglers, bright red natural casing wieners (heh, heh).  I’m not a fan of brats and I’m not sure why.  I think it’s because I never had a brat until I moved nearer to Wisconsin and they were hyped for so long that they just didn’t live up when the time came.

So I start talking about how salami is like a giant sausage but it’s cold and sliced for sandwiches…

“No!  A SA-LA-MI”  Slower and louder like the voice you reserve for foreigners.  “Will all that water come to our house?”

Salami?  Oh…tsunami!  You mean tsunami right?  All the water in Japan?

“Right,” she says.  “Salami.  Will we have a tsunami water at our house?”

No.  We don’t live near an ocean.

Ella pipes up.  “But what if we do get a tsunami?”

We won’t.  There’s no way.

“I know.  But what if it does happen?  What will happen?” 

We have the same exchange of me saying it won’t happen and Ella demanding an answer about what if.  She’s getting worked up.  I really hate it when she does this.  My patience with this day is gone.  Gone.  Really gone.

Okay girls, it’s not going to happen.  If there is a tsunami and it washes up in Nebraska…this whole world has bigger problems.  Even I don’t like my tone at this point.  You know when that tsunami happened in Japan?  There were a lot of people who couldn’t get out of the way and all the water came.  What happened to lots of those people?

Ella says, “They died.  They drowned.”

That’s right.  SO if it came to our house we could die too.

Amelia has just been listening to Ella and I going around and around about this and how it’s not going to happen here.  We are about to pull into the driveway and it is very near bedtime and all I want to do is kick my chair back, eat my dinner and not answer any more questions. 

And Amelia says…”Yep.  And then we could go to Heaven and then I could get to see my daddy and I would run to him and give him a great big hug and say DADDY!”

You’re killing me, kid.  Just…killing me.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m more than pleased that she gets it.  That she isn’t even five years old and she has more faith that I have ever had in my entire life.  In fact, it makes me realize how little faith I have.  How her whole world is centered on what comes after this life as all of ours should be.  I think.

See…there it is.  The doubt.  I don’t think anybody blames me at this point for my thoughts going that direction but at least the message has come through loud and clear to my children.

Stolen kiss.

I stole a kiss from my baby this morning, buckling her in after a busy morning at preschool.  Her skin is unbelievably soft, her thin and curly hair static filled from the ritual removing of the hat before a car ride.  She is tired and hungry, already whining for chicken nuggets and applesauce and chocolate milk.  

I stole a kiss on her cheek, pausing to inhale her sweetness that, in a year or two, with turn to the sweat of a big kid and will not be sweet any longer.  Her hands are still dimpled; they will not be for long. 

But, for today, she is my baby. 

She holds still for the kiss, smile spreading clear into her eyes. 

My serious infant turned into a clingy toddler.  That toddler became a preschooler at some point after our big move, using big words and thinking big thoughts and wondering why bones are hard in some places and squishy in others.  She wants to know, again, the story of her birth and how she was born in a rainstorm on a Tuesday morning.  She grips a pencil so hard that I fear it will break and pierce her skin but her letters are becoming fluid and almost like cursive and, unlike most little girls, she will always choose orange over pink and finishes her work with a flourish and more than an ounce of pride.

I didn’t think twice about stealing a kiss.  She’s free with the kisses and the cuddles, preferring to sit quietly on my lap than to run noisily through the house with her sister. 

My baby isn’t a baby, of course.  I’m not sure her daddy would recognize her now if she didn’t look so much like her mama.  If she didn’t pick up on my mannerisms and way of speaking, I could still never deny she was all mine.

I stole a kiss from my baby this morning.

Innocence exhausted (Fat camp, week 4).

I talk quite often about the beauty of people who have known you before you knew yourself.  My Facebook friends list is full of them.  Some are people who I have known since 3-year-old Sunday School.

My girls have a little bit of that going on.  Amelia in particular.

Amelia’s best friend is a wee pixie named Meggy.  Meggy is 4 months younger than Mimi. (This was taken a year ago by Meggy’s mom who happens to be  a fantastic photographer.  The girls were 2 1/2.)

When they are together they are adorable and loud and messy and naughty and…amazing.  They squeal at each other at a pitch that, I’m sure, only dogs can hear.  They babble and hug until they roll around on the floor in a fit of giggles.

And, now that they are older, they can entertain each other for hours.  Meggy came home with us for an afternoon at our house while the rest of her family visited a friend in Lincoln.  Meggy and Amelia sat next to each other in the van.  Ella was uncharacteristically quiet.

Amelia:  Meggy…Knock, knock.

Meggy:  Who’s there?

Amelia:  Fart butt!!!!

Crazy, psychotic laughing.  From both girls.

Amelia:  Knock, knock

Meggy:  Who’s there?

Amelia:  Poopy!!!!

Again with the laughing.  All the way home.  50 minutes of bathroom humor delivered by my innocent angel.

The upside is that they played and played for about 6 hours and I never heard from either girl.  They didn’t get into trouble or fight or cry. 

If this keeps up, they could end up with the world’s longest friendship.  And who am I to squelch a little potty humor in the name of decency?

In other news, my coughing has abated and I am full on back to Fat Camp.  And, apparently, offending everyone.  An equal opportunity offender.

Wait.  I’ll back up.  I had some PT on Saturday morning where I pressed and dead lifted a Romanian and torqued my hamstrings and marched up flights of stairs on the stair mill. 

Oh, the stair mill.  This is different from the stairmaster.  All I had ever known of a stair-anything is this:

Up, down, left, right.  Except no personal TV screen.  This was the staple of my workouts from the time I was old enough to be in the fitness room at our small town YMCA.  It was the size of my living room and had one stair climber, one schwinn air-dyne bike and a bunch of nautilus machines.  And a wall of mirrors. 

We’ve come so far.

But she had me on this, the stair mill:

The stairs?  They move.  The upside is that I can see the whole gym from the top stair.  The downside is that it takes a butt-load of work to stay on the top stair.  Molly says that the stair mill is good if you want to get your heart rate up in a hurry. 

No shit.

Two minutes (and 6 flights) later and my heart rate was about 162 (zone 4 if you are keeping track). 

No wonder people look like they are dying when they are on it.  Thusly, I have never wanted to attempt the stair mill.  I still don’t like it.

I thought was going to escape the soreness.  I felt pretty good the rest of the day Saturday and most of the day Sunday.  By Sunday night, I was a little on the hobbly side.  Today?  Crippled.  Hamstring crippled.

So, I’m getting a little cocky at Fat Camp.  Gone are the days where I wanted to blend it.  Be in the middle.  Not call attention to myself or those around me. 

I strategically place myself between the biggest person in class and the smallest.  (The smallest to inspire, the biggest to feed my ego.)  (I’m being honest.)  I don’t walk all that fast and I’m okay with it but I am learning to run.  Turns out, I’m a decent sprinter.  I can run at a 6.2 for about a minute and a half before I see stars.  At a 2 incline.  But ask me to “Jog” at, say, a 4.8 for 10 minutes and I will die right there. 

I wish I could figure it out.  My lungs and heart seem to not hold me back.  I think it’s the pounding.  I don’t like how my legs feel?  Or something?  It just doesn’t feel right.  It feels like I might trip if I don’t slow down or speed up.  Awkward.  But when I speed up, I think my lungs might actually expel from my body.  And when I slow down…that’s not good enough any more.

But how did I potentially offend?  We were in nutrition class (it is Monday, after all) and discussing how good Fish Oil is.  Again.  Just like we did last week.  This week it was about how we all have inner inflammation and fish oil helps that.  I already take 2 capsules (2000 iu) a day.  My question was “how much is too much”  as in “Can you o.d. on fish oil”?  The nutritionist rambled about how each capsule contains 1g of fat and if you took 10 of them then it would be 90 extra calories.

She could have just said “no”.  Do I look like 90 calories is going to make or break me?

Somebody else mentioned the recent study about how too much fish oil can give you mercury poisoning.  The nutritionist pointed out that we should get our fish oils from a reputable company to avoid that.

So I say…

Yeah, our hearts will be healthy but the mercury will make us all retarded.

The half of the class that knows me laughed.

The other half?  Looked at me like I had kicked a puppy.

It’s a word.  Whatever. 

The kicker though is that she argued with me.  “Mercury won’t make you…retarded.”

Umm…yeah it will.  It causes brain issues.  That’s why we were told not to eat too much tuna while pregnant.  It could contain mercury which could harm the baby.  And don’t get me started on the vaccine thing.

Class over.

I do love my fish oil. 

Even if it does make me retarded…I sure feel better.

On being a hermit.

There is nothing like a winter’s evening, a Christmas tree, Frank Sinatra on the digital music channel…and a small child passed out on the couch. 

It would be a perfect scene, for sure, if the child asleep on the couch didn’t wake up every 12 minutes to puke into a bowl and then pass out again.

So, there’s that.

I’m selfishly sad that she is sick on a Wednesday night because that means she can’t go to school tomorrow.  And that I can’t go finish my shopping all alone like I did on Tuesday.  Poor baby.  Poor mama.

I guess I will have to shop the interwebz tonight instead.  It’s almost as fun as walking around the mall.  Amazon is like the Mall of America of the internet world.  We’re wandering, we’re wandering…wheee….roller coaster.  Okay, it’s nothing like the Mall of America but I’m such a huge fan of Amazon at the moment.  Of course the Kindle is on the front page, taunting me because the Nook (Barnes and Noble’s much better, cooler version of the book reader) is backordered until sometime in February and I am still Instant Gratification Girl after all.  It makes me want to order the Kindle and have it here by this time next week. 

Or, I could just stop shopping for myself.

I did, on the recommendation of The Pioneer Woman, order THREE gifts from www.thecakepanlady.com because I am a firm believer in one stop shopping.  Thus, the trip through the aisles of Amazon. 

Turns out, I don’t ever need to leave home.  Thus, adding to my hermit ways.  Just like Netflix. 

I’m not a total hermit.  Amelia had her preschool program last night.  Is that even possible that my baby stood in front of 75 people and sang her heart out?  Because she did.  She did NOT have the solo but she stood up with the child who did and sang along with her.  Man, I wish I had the guts to do that.  I almost lacked the guts to go.  (Why couldn’t she have gotten the pukes on Monday night?) 

I love her preschool.  Okay, it’s really a daycare with a preschool in the morning and then she stays for lunch and nap.  It’s spendy for two days a week but, just like the occasional cut and color, I’m worth it.  Her teacher rocks.  The directors have their shit together.  The other parents….okay let’s just leave it with the teacher and directors. 

How about this picture?  I was the only parent without: a spouse, a camcorder, Uggs, a set of grandparents, a full carat, a personal trainer and, apparently, a hairbrush.  But my kid was cute.  Super cute.  Even if I wasn’t. 

I guess I will be home tomorrow…making more cookies…possibly a coffee cake.  And check your mailbox for a Christmas card from us.  And if you want one, let me know.  I overordered.  Again.  I should really count before I shell out for photo cards.

Rocking my baby.

Sometime around 9 tonight, I was rocking my baby.  Who isn’t a baby, for sure, but we both enjoy the moment.  As she was drifing off with her mullato baby Lucy (naked and dirty) and skeezy yellow thermal receiving blanket, curls tickled my chin.  Her breathing slowed and the hand not clutching her lovies came to rest, after a long hard day, on my cheek.  Her eyelashes (both girls have their daddy’s eyelashes, thank the good Lord) fluttered one last time today, lips parted, sweet apple breath.

I love being a mom.  I have wanted kids since forever.  I remember being about eleven or twelve years old and having names of my future children all picked out.  The names would vary according to current popular movies, sports icons, crushes and rock stars.  I never saw myself as Mrs. Jake Ryan but I did have a child named Jacob Ryan Alexander at some point in my adolescence.  Naming a kid, I think, is one of the single most important first jobs that a parent has. 

My sister is a first grade teacher.  Her husband is a middle school coach, PE and health teacher.  They are both very popular and good at what they do.  They have one son.  My nephew is a newly minted three year old.  I know for a fact they they spent the entire pregnancy (and maybe before that?) attempting to choose a name that was not reminicent of some asshole student somewhere along the line.  It’s a hard job when you’ve been teaching for ten or more years and had hundreds of students pass through your life.

Ella’s name is Eleanor Grayce.  I wanted her, like Will before her, to have a grown up name (a “Chief Justice” name, if you will) to go with the name that we call her from birth.  Not a nickname really but a choice.  Ella was named the day I peed on the stick.  I just knew she was a girl.  She had to be.  I also knew that she was healthy and that she would be the baby who lived and thrived.  She would be happy.  And she was.  Is.  Eleanor means “light”.  I liked it for several reasons.  There are infinite shorter versions should she choose to define herself with her name.  I also liked it because she was my light when things, back then, were darkest.  I got pregnant, best we can tell, right around 3 months after Will died.  My cycles were still messed up from stress.  On a geeky note, I am trained in theatrical lighting and lighting design.  So the name truly spoke to me. 

Amelia Eve was named by Stephen.  We were both convinced that she was a boy.  Had to be.  And, obviously, wasn’t.  Amelia is named after Stephen’s great grandmother, Millie, born Amelia.  Stephen’s dad called our Amelia “millie” for a good 3 months until he realized that we weren’t going that direction.  Amelia means “industrious”.  Ella has called her Melia since she was in utero and it stuck.  It has since been shortened to Mimi.  That was her own doing.  If you ask her what her name is she will say “Mimi Kites”.  Close enough.

I needed the rocking tonight.  The littles woke up fighting this morning.  Add that to boundless energy, a messy house, a restless dog and a mama who lacks ambition and you have a recipe for disaster.  The whining continued all day, the house just got messier, somebody let the dog out the front door, nobody got a real nap and meals were entirely created from the microwave.  Fail. 

But then there’s my baby.  My angel.  My snuggler.  She would crawl right back into the womb if it were possible, if I would let her. 

Meily

 

curly_cutie-pie

Missing assprint.

Lots and lots of changes around here.  The least of which is that, in getting rid of the Christmas tree (on my own thankyouverymuch) I moved around the living room furniture.  All on my own.  Amazing what one person can accomplish when the assprint leaves the lazyboy.

One of the major motivating factors behind leaving the chair (other than my ever expanding gut)(and not from gestation for the record)(that would involve the act leading to the conception of said gestation), is that Amelia is potty training.  I know that the PC thing to say is “potty learning” but I’m convinced that she already knows exactly what she’s doing.  It’s me that needs to be trained.  She’s doing quite well in the pee category.  She has only had one accident in the 4 days that we’ve been at this.  Poo is another story but then again, it was for Ella too.  And every other kid I know.  Except the OCD kid who detested being dirty. 

I’m pretty proud of her.  She won’t pee anywhere except a toddler sized potty seat right at the moment but we’ll work on that.  Yesterday we ran errands for almost 3 hours in the afternoon.  We made at least 3 pee stops in that time that involved me squatting (I’m not pregnant, I swear) in front of her in random store restrooms, holding onto her legs so she didn’t fall in.  Not a drop.  She held it until we got home and peed a river the second we walked into the door.

The other exciting thing is that we are picking up Maya today.  Also the motivation for moving furniture.  We need to fold in another family member to our already close quarters.  One of our errands was to make a trip to PetSmart for necessary supplies like a bed and some treats and something to keep food in and a tag which Ella loved watching the engraving.  She recognized our phone number after the first two digits. 

Having a dog is like belonging to a really big club.  They have their own stores, their own parks and their very own topics of coversation.  Best of all, I may actually have somebody to actually listen to me and show a little appreciation.  The littles might actually learn something.

And I might spend more time off my ass.  Key word being “might”.