Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bottle it up

There are lots of things about being Sara at the age of three that I'd like to bottle up and save for another day because I know they would come in handy:

  • Her boundless energy. (BOUNDLESS.)
  • Her uncluttered honesty.
  • Her insatiable thirst to know everything. (EVERYTHING.)
  • Her frequently issued hugs and kisses.
  • Her drive for fun and adventure.
  • Her soft, smooth, clear, creamy skin. (I SO WISH.)
  • Her innocence.
  • Her optimism.
  • Her propensity to make up words that are just right.
  • Her abs of steel. (OR MAYBE TITANIUM.)
  • Her infectious sense of humor.
  • Her sweet heart.
  • Her simple problems.
  • Her ability to forgive.
  • Her honest, undeserved, pure, unfiltered, endless love for her family and friends. (AND KITTIES AND NEIGHBORHOOD DOGS.)

I'd also like to bottle up her fashion sense. Because the girl likes what she likes, and she isn't afraid to work it.

I guess we can consider that bottled.

Totally wish...

...I could go to this.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

It's true

The squeaky wheel DOES get the grease.

Maybe I need to squeak more often.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

cjane readjane lovejane (who's really courtney)

Here is a blogger I thoroughly enjoy. She puts words to work in a way I appreciate: Funny or melancholy or smug or humbled, each one is precise, heavy with meaning.

Even if she's talking about dirty diapers.

It's a gift I tell you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Putting a pin in it

In an ill-advised plot to simultaneously accomplish a pain in the neck errand and wear out the child, I decided to take a stab at a mid-week, post-dinner, end-of-the-day run to the library with Sara tonight.

Yes, the Central Library. Downtown. The rather large one. That I haven't completely got a handle on just yet. Right right -- that's the one.

And I guess now is just as good a time to mention that I woke up with a headache this morning which I never did shake. (Is it possible to shake a headache that you wake up with? I don't think so.)

Anyway, Sara and I traipsed off to the beautiful new library, her library tote in tow, with just a few things to gather up. Because she is three she made attempts to run through the stacks and hooted like an owl in the old, high-ceilinged reading room, and because I am Mama I threatened her with No Books For You or Going Home Right Now if she didn't knock it off. We reached a middle ground and made it out relatively unscathed, if not quickly or quietly.

But oddly enough, this isn't a story about the library. This is a story about the moments after we left the library, when I pulled out on to Pennsylvania and then made the west-bound turn on to St. Clair to make our way back home up Meridian Street. To our left was the American Legion Mall, with all of its memorials and monuments and homeless people, and to our right was the grand sweeping staircase into the old original library, the same entrance that I walked through myself for so many years though it's now outfitted with a unique work of modern art. As I made the turn and navigated the car around jaywalkers and parallel parkers I heard a loud, hoarse gasp from the back seat.

You don't hear a three year old gasp like that everyday.

If it had been an adult I would have slammed on the breaks and braced for impact, but as it came from a preschooler my instincts were tempered with curiosity and a little amusement. As soon as I realized that we weren't about to hit anyone or anything, I heard Sara say "Look at THAT one. What's that called, Mama? What is it? Wait -- a sunset? A sunset. Yeah, a sunset. That is one of the GOOD ones. That is a good sunset."

And it was.

But I never would have noticed it if not for the fresh eyes of my sweet girl. And I think this is why God sometimes gives us ill-advised plots for Tuesday night trips to the library with a three year old.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A letter for Sara

Baby girl,

I have called you this for three years – “free and a HALF” years, as you would say. And you are, and you always will be, despite your protest that you are not a baby. Or a little girl, or even small. You are big.

(As much as I hate to admit it, you are big, too.)

But here’s the truth, and I don’t expect you to understand it now. It took your Mama 35 years to learn this and sometimes I still find it hard to believe: Forever and ever you will be my baby girl. Not the infant who unknowingly depended on me to eat and stay warm and dry, who needed us to teach her to talk and walk and play. Not the toddler who demanded her independence while always making sure I was within her line of sight. Not the preschooler who dazzles me with her sense of humor and insight.

No, you will always be my baby, who I think of first thing in the morning and remember last at night. The one whose face I could never imagine until I met you, but who I had known for a lifetime once you arrived. You are an extension of me and still entirely yourself – a phenomenon that I can’t ponder for too long because it always makes me dizzy. You are every great possibility waiting to happen. You are the one that I have always loved without any fear or doubt or reservation.

None of these things will ever change.

And that’s the tricky part: It will never, ever change. Even when you leave for kindergarten or high school or college, even when you leave to start your own family, you will still be my baby. You won’t like this – I didn’t like it – for a long, long time. If you are like me it will take the birth of your own child to teach you this lesson and make it stick, and still you’ll struggle with the notion that I could have ever loved you as much as you love your own little one.

But I did. And I do. And I always, always will. Even when I’m gone.

Because that’s how Mamas forever feel about their babies.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Mama/Sara Adventure Day!

The poor kid. Her father has set up an entirely different expectation when it comes to "adventure," one that typically includes appropriate footwear and outdoor gear.

Then there's me. My adventure days require dressing up, hair decorations (or pretties, or crowns, or whatever she's calling them on a given day), a restaurant, and all manner of girly things. (Translation: shopping is usually involved.)

So today we donned our best twirly skirts, had pancakes at LePeep, and then went raspberry picking at Spencer's Berry Farm. We followed that up with a trip to the Red Circle Store (aka Target) and then came home to build a fort and take a nap.

(Rob took over for one of those last two activites. I'll let you guess which one.)

All in all, a great Mama/Sara day. Can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


After dinner Sara and I sat down to do a puzzle or two (or three).

And you must know: doing puzzles with Sara is a painful experience. Painful. I think because she is so smart I expect too much from her sometimes; typical three-year-old tantrums baffle me because she speaks with the vocabulary and complexity of someone closer to five or six -- a big emotional and intellectual leap, all things considered. But these puzzles... man, oh man. I really think she should have a better grasp on them than she does. Just 12 pieces, filled with edges and corners to guide the way. What I realized as those painful 30 minutes unfolded was that this is just an area of relative weakness for her, this business of seeing the Big Picture.

In watching her tonight I remembered again how much alike we are, my girl & me. Losing sight of the Big Picture is a constant struggle for me, too, and that flaw reveals itself in a seemingly random but nevertheless consistent manner. Countless half-completed projects, dreams abandoned, lifelong struggles with weight, stubborn attempts to engineer the future -- they're all the result of missing the Big Picture.

Sara sat tonight quickly pulling at random pieces and forcing them together, happily oblivious to the pictures she was trying to create. Rather than envisioning Eric Carle's train cars full of hippos and lions and giraffes Sara saw purple lines or yellow blobs or "big teeth!" She had the bottom at the top and the top on the side and tried with all her might to meet the middle pieces with edges and the corners with the middles. As she did it she filled the room with self-talk, alternating between murmurs of "this is hard for me" and singing "I! CAN! DO! THIS!" Blissfully, peacefully, doggedly working the pieces and more often than not failing but never pausing to wallow in that failure. Never kicking herself, never giving up. And when the pieces did fit? Celebration and pride the likes of which you only see in a three-year-old.

How many times have I grabbed at random pieces of my life and tried to force them together in ways that seemed so logical, so right, but in the end could not have been more wrong? How many times have I tried to start at the end with no thought of the beginning? How many times have I missed the clues that help you fit the pieces together the right way, refusing to slow down and take the time to really work the puzzle out?

(Countless times, I am sad to say.)

We've got a lot to learn, she and I, about remembering the Big Picture. But tonight as I sat and watched my daughter chip away at those 12 piece puzzles bit by bit by topsy-turvy bit it's she who taught me something about approaching this work with perseverance, joy, and celebration.

The girl never ceases to amaze. She's only three. How much more is she going to teach me in the years ahead? I only pray I'm a good and worthy student.