I'll push myself up through the dirt and shake my petals free
I'm resigned to being born and so resigned to bravery.
~Dar Williams

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sunrise, Sunset

My dearest, sweetest, Amelia,

I can hardly catch my breath - you have, in the blink of an eye, gone from five pounds to five years. Weren’t you, just a blink-of-an-eye ago, lying in a UV bed to decrease your bilirubin levels, in an incubator to regulate your temperature, and back in the UV bed, because you were really having a hard time with your bilirubin situation, and then finally in my arms; cooing and smiling while I sang you lullabies, studied your eyelashes, and memorized every groove and contour of your tiny fingers?

And weren’t you, just barely, splashing pureed strawberries on the wall; waving, smiling, and shouting at strangers - demanding the world acknowledge the your tiny presence; clutching fingers, sofas, railings, and hedges until you burst bravely from your babyhood? 

And darling, I’m sure it was just a moment ago that you were spouting invectives against cherries, bedtime rituals, and shoes; when you decided unflinchingly that you would never don another pair of pants, when you announced one morning that you were done suckling from my breast, when you decided Daddy was your favorite human in the universe. 

It really was just second ago that you - out of the blue - sang the ABC song you’d learned at preschool; when you learned to put on your jacket unassisted by flipping it over your head; when you Velcroed your shoes in triumph.  And just a second ago that you were big enough to help me roll out cookies, apply your own icing, and pour sprinkles straight into your mouth.

I am fairly certain it was just yesterday, love, that you found so many reserves of courage; when you started making friends, too many to count, for whom you drew pictures and wrote love letters in the evenings; when you began to ascend fenceposts, swing frames, walls, and giant rocks; when you waded into swimming pools, rivers, and oceans without reserve, gracefully waving your arms as you dance into the swirling waves.  When you earnestly declared that when you are big, you will marry Daddy and be a ballerina kid doctor.

Time is a cruel thief, my little bug.  My most cherished moments are spent watching you grow and learn and expand.  But, and you know this by now, I wish that I could keep you as you are, twirling in your beautiful gowns and giggling as you discover how much the world has to offer.  

But I won’t.  I swear a thousand oaths that I will not hold you back; I will cheer as you run farther and farther and taller and taller. I will kiss your scraped knees when you fall, but I won’t hold you down.  Go forth, my darling daughter, my impossibly big five-year-old; go run, jump, twirl, laugh, splash, fall, and grow.

You are magnificent.

Friday, June 27, 2014

all mine in your loveliness

love 7

When I was growing up, my mom and her friends sang a beautiful song every year in church called “Mary’s Lullaby.” I have never – ever – listened to the song without crying; however, it took on new meaning once I became a mother. In the song, Mary contemplates the future of her baby - his journey, pain, crucifixion, and divine royalty. But as she contemplates his future, she, the mother of God, cherishes the moments of having him to herself, of rocking him the way every other mother rocks an infant.

All mine in your loveliness, baby, all mine;
All mine in your holiness, baby divine.
Sing on, herald angels, in chorus sublime;
Sing on and adore,
For tonight you are mine.

When I look at my children, I imagine their futures. Perhaps they will teach little children. Perhaps they will heal the sick. Perhaps they will discover innovative ways to conserve energy, or cure diseases, or slow the impact of climate change.

Perhaps they will marry young; perhaps old. Perhaps they will never marry. Inevitably, their hearts will be broken, and they will have to draw on inner reserves of strength in order to find their paths. I hope to watch them walk across many stages, to receive diplomas and awards and honors and flowers. I hope to kiss their cheeks when they find true love; to weep tears of joy into the eyes of their own newborns. I hope for so very many things.

But maybe, maybe, maybe (breathe) tragedy will strike me or (God forbid) – them. I agonize every day about their futures – what will bring them joy, and what will break them into pieces and leave them wondering how they can possibly go on.


But tonight, they are just my babies. I told Amelia just one more story at least five times. I nursed Lily into a peaceful slumber while she stroked my hair, held her for several minutes after she fell asleep and studied her eyelashes. In a few years, she will not let me hold her this way, smelling her hair and pressing her cheekbones to my lips. In a few years, the girls will fight with me about every little thing and call me names and tell me they hate me. And that’s okay. I will honor their transitions away from me (with tears, no doubt).

But tonight they are here to hold and breathe and watch.

Tonight they are mine.

Oh, let me enfold thee, my baby, tonight;
While legions are singing in joyous delight.
A new star has risen to hail thee divine,
For you are a queen…

But tonight you are mine.

sleep 2


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

in which i try to pee alone

Today I get home and am in desperate need of the toilet, so I do an utterly audacious thing:  I walk into the bathroom and close the door. 

No sooner have I sat down, than both girls are at the door screaming as though they’ve been stabbed.  I should know better than to look… I mean, I *do* know better… but whenever my children are crying, some sort of absurdly over-developed primordial instinct takes over, and a surge of epinephrine prepares me  to fight with whatever predator may be devouring my offspring. 

I open the door, just a centimeter to check for wolves and lions and hawks and such, and my firstborn pounces in and declares mightily that she needs to pee right this very instant.  We take such declarations seriously, as her independence from diapers is yet in its incipience.  She sits down on her froggy potty, directly across from me.

So there we are, face to face, drawers on the floors, having just another run-of-the-mill, tender mother-daughter moment.  I look at my daughter and see four eyes (two human, two amphibian) looking back.

Her:  What are you doing?
Me:  I was thinking about peeing.  Sometimes I have to pee, and I just, I come in here thinking maybe I’ll have myself a bit of a pee.
Her:  I’m peeing, too.  Can you stop talking now?  I really need to pee, Mom.

Her face grimaces with concentration and soon a trickle is audible.  And then a hysterical Lily bursts in, screaming her hysterical I’m-about-to-succumb-to-natural-selection scream.  “I WANT MILKKKKKK!” she screams.  She hysterically climbs onto my lap and hysterically pulls down my shirt.

All while my firstborn and her toilet are staring at me from across the tile. 

Her:  I beated you.
Me:  What?
Her:  I peed faster than you.  I beated you.
Me:  Well, I was distracted because Lily came in. 
Her:  Mom, you didn’t pee fast.  I’m the pee champion.

This erudite conversation is interrupted by Lily hysterically screaming “NOOOOOOOO!”  Lily doesn’t like it when I talk while she’s nursing.  She will not have it.

And then Amelia again, with, “Mommy, how are you going to dump my pee into the toilet if you’re sitting on it?”

Her toilet has a removable body-waste receptacle, which I normally empty immediately after use.   “I’ll empty it after I pee, honey.”

But it is too late – she has stood up, receptacle in hands.  “Here, Mommy.”  Before I process what is happening, I am holding an open bowl of urine with one hand, a nursing toddler with the other, and my drawers are still all the way down on the floors. 


And then there we are, all four of us.  All hanging out in our shoe-box-sized bathroom together, just like every other time I try to pee.

And that stupid frog is just sitting there with a smirk on his face.

froggy toilet

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Lily Chronicles: Destructor

While some people are known for leaving everything better than they found it, my little Lily Love has a penchant for catalyzing disarray.

I truly don’t believe that Lily purposely destroys everything she touches – she just… ummm… does.  For example, I have never seen a child love her books so passionately (read: violently).  She hugs them, drags them around, kisses them, bends them in every direction, and pulls off all loose parts.  This crate has been filled more than once with stories in need of repair.

photo (10)

And I can’t believe that she desires a life as Earth’s youngest graffiti artist; rather, I think she looks at objects not as they are, but as they could be… she really sees their potential, if you will.  I mean, who wants a white fridge when they could have a squiggly-wiggly blue and white and hand-printy fridge?

draw 1

And who would want a pristine hardwood floor when they could have one with crayon drawings and ballpoint-pen gouge marks?

draw 2

And who would want to be a boring green and white burro when they could have a custom transcendental tattoo (this one says, “serenity” in Chinese).

photo 1 (16)

Honestly, does anybody have a perfect table top?  (Please don’t answer that.)

photo 2 (14)

Tim’s absolute favorite is when Lily uses artistic expression to edit his cookbooks and textbooks.  (Read:  Lily may get sold to the gypsies.)

photo 4 (8)

winter 2014 219

But of all the things Lily has utterly destroyed (not counting my belly), I think this takes the cake:


I am working toward a 25-year forgiveness plan.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Lily Chronicles: The Torturing of the Sis

Perhaps you’ve caught on to the fact that Lily can be quite exasperating at times, and nobody is more keenly aware of this than her older sister.  Particularly during the winter-inversion months when the air wasn’t clean enough to go out to play, Lily would create her own diversions by scheming ways to get her sister’s (ahem…) attention.  Several times a day, Amelia would turn to me and say (adapting a line from Olivia), “Mommy… she really does wear us out, doesn’t she?”

For example, one of Lily’s very favorite games is to quietly get closer and closer to Amelia, steal whatever toy Amelia is playing with, and then take off running while yelling, “You can’t catch me!  Can’t catch me!”  Amelia does not like this game nearly as much as Lily does for some reason.

But it’s not all fun and games.  Lily becomes highly offended when anybody pays special attention to her sister.  Whenever Tim sits down to read Amelia a story, Lily drops whatever she’s doing and runs over to spoil the moment… usually in the form of sitting on Amelia, throwing the book, or singing so loudly that nobody can hear the story.  In the picture below, we tried to distract our terrific toddler with a stuffed animal.  She tried desperately to pull its teeth out.

animal torture 1

The list goes on.

“Hey Amelia, I know you’re trying to make a beautiful picture, so I’m going to help you by throwing all your things on the ground and then taking the scissors and cutting holes in a bunch of Mommy’s shirts”  (True story.)

bug sis 2

“Hey Amelia, I know you’re trying to take a nap, so I’m going to climb into your bed and steal your favorite blanket and pillow a la Goldilocks.  Oh, I suppose I’ll steal a book as well, for good measure.  Don’t mind me.  Have a nice nap, Sis!”

bug sister 8

“Heyyyyy, Amelia.  I know you’re asleep and you hate waking up and kisses, but I’m just gonna go ahead and try my hardest to wake you up with kisses.”

love 1

“Hey!  Sis!  I know that’s your special balloon and that you’re so desperate to keep it from me that you’re tying it in a hundred knots around Rody’s ear, but …. hmmm… I know, I’m going to run off with Rody.  Can’t catch me!  Can’t catch me!”

photo 1 (14)

“Hey Amelia, I know you had to leave dinner for a potty break, so I just went ahead and improved everything.  I’ve made you hamburger-helper-and-pea soup.  Ummm, it’s dairy based, and you’re going to need a new beverage. Bon appetit!” 

photo 2 (13)

“Heya, Sis.  I can see you’re busy, so I’ll just leave you alone.  Right after I throw this ball at your head about 48 times.  Oh gosh, we have good times, don’t we?”


“Hi, hi, hi!  That’s a great tower you’re building.  Mind if I just, oh I dunno, just lie down on top of it?  Oh, you didn’t want me to do that?  Okay, I can see you’re upset, just calm down so we can talk this out.”

toilet 3

“I’m really very sorry.”

ha ha ha

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Lily Chronicles: Do you like my hat?

The personality of the wearer and the hat makes the hat. 
Philip Treacy

Evolution is a clever beast.  Lily is surely the naughtiest child I’ve met.  At a tender 21 months, she has mastered the arts lying, stealing, destroying, escaping, shrieking, disobeying, taunting, and cunning.  And yet we love her madly, deeply, fiercely… in our bones.

The primary reason that Lily has not been sold to any Bohemian tribes is that she is hilarious.  When she’s not minioning for Satan, she is entertaining us… singing The Soup Opera, tickling us,  blowing zerberts on our bellies and arms and cheeks, jumping SO HIGH (a couple centimeters), and making silly-hat jokes. 

If somebody starts chastising her poor behavior, she grabs the nearest object, puts it atop her cranium, and says, “You like my pretty hat?”  Then she smiles sweetly and with so much self satisfaction because she already knows she has won and all is forgiven.


Lily, stop banging your toy seahorse on the wall we share with the neighbors!

hat 1

Lily, give Amelia’s pants back to her!
hat 2

Lily, stop trying to sit on Amelia’s head!

hat 3

Lily, get lost, I’m trying to sleep!

hat 5

Seriously, Lily, get lost - I’m trying to sleep!

hat 10

Lily, get off Amelia’s potty – she needs to pee!

hat 12

Lily, stop stuffing oatmeal into your belly button!

photo 1 (13)

Lily, get out of here – I’m trying to mop the floor!

photo 2 (11)

Lily, stop flinging your dinner at the window!

photo 3 (9)

Lily, stop trying to throw Amelia’s clothes into the bathtub!

photo 4 (7)

Lily, stop eating the frosting out of oreos and stomping the cookie parts into the carpet.

photo 5 (6)

Lily, stop running off, cackling, with Amelia’s snacks.

photo 4 (6)

Hey Lily, that’s Amelia’s blue hat!

photo 1 (12)


photo 5 (7)

“But seriously, guys, do you like this hat?”

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Lily Chronicles: The Art of Eating Food

I’m not really sure how to say this other than to just blurt the unpleasant truth:  Lily is a bit messy when eating. 


“Hey Mom, I swear I didn’t eat any candy while you were gone.”

eat 5 (2)

“No, that’s not yogurt all over my face.  I just have a very glow-in-the-dark complexion."

eat 5

“The applesauce was so tasty I felt compelled to rub it all over in my hair, ears, and eyeballs.  Once I got going, I couldn’t stop.”

eat 7

“Thanks for the pumpkin-chocolate cookies, Grandma.  I’ll have 16 more.  You’re really great, I mean that sincerely.”

eat 8

“I’m so excited Mom graduated I’m going to smash cake onto my nipples.”

eat 9

“This is the best first birthday ever, except that my dress is sticky.  Gross.  Now I shall lean to the left.”

eat 10

“I’ve invented a new dish.  It’s called pea and cupcake casserole.”

eat 11

(Gluttony is exhausting.)

eat 13

(Gluttony is exhausting, the sequel.)

food mess 1

(Gluttony is exhausting, part 3.)

eat 14

Mom:  “Lily, don’t throw your chips on the floor… hey pick up your chips… stop stomping them into the ground… LILYYYYYYY!!!!”

food 20

“Somebody dropped some crumbs on the floor.  What a slob. Don’t worry, Mom, I’ll clean up here…”

eat 12

“Yeah… uhhh… don’t make that again.”

photo 4 (5)


eat 17

“Hey, why do you take my clothes off before I eat?  Weird…”

photo 3 (7)

“Don’t worry, Mom.  I’m not going to eat any dirt.  I swear I’m not eating dirt.  Mmmm… dirt.”

eat 16