Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Reflections from the Garden

Taking advantage of the beautiful weather and relatively plan-free day, I whisked Coco away yesterday to a local garden to attempt to capture a few soon-to-be-three-year-old shots.

Most of the 'session' looked like this:


Occasionally we captured a rare moment like this:

After about an hour of playing and chasing and singing and cajoling, Coco and I left the gardens hand-in-hand.  A sweet woman who had been exercising around the perimeter the entire time stopped us as we passed through the garden gates, "May I take your picture?"

"Oh," I stammered awkwardly, "I don't think, I mean, I didn't really dress..." I had no words to explain how this is day three without washing my hair and I'm in my 'mommy play clothes' and I didn't really shower this morning...

Patiently and kindly she insisted. "It's a memory of mother and daughter. You'll be glad you did one day. Pick any spot in the garden. I'd really like to do this for you."

I smiled and said my warmest thank you, really and truly grateful for a stranger to demonstrate so much thoughtfulness. Coco got into the spirit of things right away and took off scampering to her favorite spot at the back of the garden, "Let's go to the house!" and plopped right down on the bench. She intuitively sensed the importance of this moment, long before I warmed up to the idea.

Following behind, Kathy and I introduced ourselves. She carefully took several pictures for us, making sure I checked them before we got up.

Snap, snap, snap.

Walking back through the garden, I again thanked Kathy for her generosity. She simply replied, "I lost my son four months ago. I know how important these moments are." She shared with strength, deep pain, yet no bitterness.

Fighting tears streaming down my face I said, "I am so very sorry." Then very quietly, "How old was your son?"

"He was 39 years old. A police officer."

We hugged for a long time.

And as our impromptu photo shoot ended as unceremoniously as it had started she told me, "Thank you for letting me do this for you today. It brought me great joy."

I was completely humbled. In the midst of this woman's tremendous loss of a son, a pain no mother should feel, she chose a selfless act of entering into our moment of joy. And not just entering, but celebrating.

Chloetta, in less than a week you turn three. Perhaps I will get a more conventional three-year-old post blogged soon; the one where I get to to share how wonderful you are and all the things you do and how so dearly loved and delighted in and so on and so forth. Yes, that time will come soon. But today, I feel it's more important to quietly ponder the precious moments we've had and, God-willing, will continue to have together. It is a time to reflect on the powerful response of a stranger acting out of love and kindness, even in the midst of suffering and grief. My prayer for you is to love others with such grace in spite of any pain you encounter this side of Heaven.

Coco-belle out of all the pictures we've taken over the years as mommy and daughter; this one might always be my favorite:

Even if you aren't smiling.

I love you, 

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Books are a daily staple in this household and in an attempt to foster a love of good literature we've started reading the likes of Frog and Toad, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Where the Sidewalk Ends and more. 

It's fun to relive some of my childhood through these stories and poems. I loved Shel Silverstein and decided my kids were ready for his humor. Each kiddo has their own favorite poem and for a season, Coco begged to read The Yipiyuck over and over again. And again. Just in case you've never had the pleasure...

Then, a few days after we'd first read the poem, it started. Cooc began telling me, "Mommy, I have yipiyuck in my diaper!" Any trash or unwanted food was instantly dubbed a, "Yipiyuck." When I change her diaper and it's just wet she tells me, "Nooooo yipiyuck in my diaper!" Coco came in from outside without shoes on and had some dirt, I mean, yipiyuck on her toe. 

So, yipiyuck is now officially a part of our family vocabulary. Permanently. Thank you Shel Silverstein!

P.S. Dad, don't worry. I'll start them on C.S. Lewis and Tolkein before too long, but you may need to come over and do all the voices like you did for me when I was a preschooler. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Jack at 4.5 Years

Dear Jack, 

You are such a gift to your Mommy (and everyone)! I love you so deeply. 

As summer approaches and warm weather is here to stay, you have delighted in being outdoors hours a day either in our yard playing in the dirt, sandbox, or pool; going on long walks to the train tracks or river; and afternoons at the park or zoo. 

You are our storyteller. You have a storyline running through your head constantly about everything and love it when we join in your wildly configured drama. When you don't have a story running through your head, there is usually a soundtrack of favorite songs "playing." You are a boy—you like to make noise. You love to make up witty new words to songs you know and sing about what we are doing. When I think of it, we ease doing hard things by singing about them.

You love to ask questions now and want to know how everything works, or why this or that, or how something is made. We often discover the answers together (thank you google and youtube for things like, "How does a dragonfly eat?" or "How does a walrus speak?" or "What is an amuesment park/roller coaster?"). We still need to find the answer to "How tall were the walls at Jericho?" You are also making lots of associations and connections, like: "He was a leader? Like Joshua was a leader, Mommy?" A common phrase we hear is, "That's like such and such, Mommy and Daddy..." Often, you make connections we haven't even thought of ourselves.

You still have lots of energy to burn and we continue to think of creative ways to channel that energy into (ahem) productive uses. :) For example, today you told us, "I have lots of extra energy. I think we should go to the pool." So we did.

Jack, you love to be silly. You love to make people laugh (especially your sister!), and you enjoy having company over and helping to prepare food for our guests. You always have an itinerary for them (first we'll play trains, then we can do this...). For a while, you loved to tease by calling women "Mr. So-and-so" and men, "Mrs. So-and-so." 

Some of your favorite joys of late have been the Jim Gill concert, building a ukulele with Daddy, running around the zoo as a "zookeeper leader," making dinner many nights with Mommy as her little "sous-chef," Sunday school, and building creatively with Duplos. 

I love our Mommy-Jack time we get most days during Chloe's nap. Sometimes we work on fine motor skills or building, but other times we read chapter books snuggled up on the couch. We play long games of trains or construction or cars with complicated story lines, or we play board games together. It's sacred time to both of us. 

Perhaps one of my favorite times of day with you right now is right before bed as we snuggle together while you drift off to sleep. I pray with you, sing to you and sometimes you sing with me. We snuggle and you open your eyes to tell me that you love me and kiss my cheeks and hug me tightly. It certainly makes up for the struggle of getting a very tired non-napping boy through his nighttime routine of shower, pjs, teeth, and bed. :)

Jack, you are our sensitive soul and care so deeply about people. You pray for healing when others are sick, you cry when they cry, you sense moods instantaneously, you feel deeply and sometimes cannot say goodbye to loved ones because you are so sad to see them go (even when you will see them the next day). You continue to amaze me with your courage, your tender heart, and your capacity to learn and grow. Every day is a bold, unpredictable adventure and I'm so very proud to be your mama.



Coco at 20 Months

Dear Chloe, 

I could not be more delighted with you as my daughter! Your infectious laugh, sweet and spunky smiles, spontaneous hugs, kisses and "I love yous" are pure joy. You are joyful, expressive, dramatic, generous, loving, and full.of.life. People describe you as beautiful, petite, intellignent, B.U.S.Y., peanuty, and sweet. 

You care deeply about people, especially the people closest to you. You constantly ask, "Where's Daddy? Where's Mimi? Where's Bapa? Where's Jack?" and want to call everyone under the sun (especially if FaceTime is involved—"Call Grandma, see GRANDPA! Call Uncle Drew?"). You also ask for people to come over all the time!

Daddy was gone for three nights in a row this past week. By the second night, you woke up four times before he came home. Finally, you had had enough and demanded, "SEE DADDY!" Thankfully, Daddy was home and sleeping at this point and so I took you to see him. You snuggled right up to him and promptly fell asleep. After returning you to the crib, you slept peacefully the rest of the night, reassured that the people most important to you were home and nearby. 

Mornings are so fun. I often wake up in a fog, listening to you sweetly chatter to your animals and babies in your crib (usually an hour earlier than I think is reasonably acceptable, wink, wink). One day I went in to see you and you had every one of them lined up against the crib and you told me proudly, "Baby bath! Sheep bath!" It was apparently bathtime for your friends. I love hearing your sweet voice when I come in, "Good morning Mommy! Jack sleeping? See Daddy?"

Two of your favorite loves are books and shoes, the latter of which you try on constantly. You are quite the fashionista...you often demand to "choose!" your own clothes. This morning as I rummaged through your dresser drawer with you in arms, you lept out, said, "choose!" and then "purple!" You picked out a purple skirt (hands down your favorite color) and loved it when we put it on right away. You frequently strip down naked, quite proud of your accomplishment as you run to find me...

You ask for all your books by title and have definite ideas about which one we are to read at which time. Cinderella is a current favorite and you love it when I do all the different voices dramatically. You love to sing little songs and rhymes with me. Some of your favorites are, "Baa, Baa Black Sheep," "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star," "Ring around the Rosies," "If You're Happy and You Know It," "Five Little Monkeys," "I Know an Old Lady," "The ABC's," and more. "Again? More songs?" is a common phrase.

You name all the little people figures we have around the house and have named many of your babies too. You also named the pull-toy puppy, "Sarah Beth" all on your own. I think I'm flattered...

Puppies, babies, and all things farm animals bring much joy to you (although you know your construction trucks and cars and trains well, thanks to your older sibling). I love watching your relationship with Jack grow. You both adore each other, love to wrestle, sing, and dance together, and have started to play more and more pretend games with each other. You trade toys with your brother and already know how to tease him. You want to be able to do everything Jack does (if he gets a bandaid, you must too, in the very.same.spot.). Both of you snuggle up for books all day long with Mommy...a deep joy.

Chloe, you love to scribble a bit and paste stickers all over paper. Often our coloring sessions end up in me drawing your demands, typically a moon, a dog, a girl/boy, a cat, a circle, a star, a cloud, your hands and feet, and other random requests. I know when I haven't met your standards because you will ask for it again...

Chloe, you love life. You love bathtime and excitedly yell "Time for Dinner!" appropriately each night. You adore "Go bye-bye! Shoes on!" to anywhere and everywhere—especially the zoo, the park, or a walk. You are independent and know what you want and communicate these desires with skill and a masterful cuteness. You melt hearts whereever you go and have been known to chase people down to say "Hi!" to them if they don't immediately return your sincerest affections. 

You are learning your colors, know many shapes, and demand your grapes and cheese to be cut in semi-circles. You are fascinated by the ABC's and I've caught you telling bits of story while reading books to yourself on several occasions lately. 

Much of the time now you speak in two to five word sentences, including yelling at the grocery store today a whole series of phrases: "I need milk! I want that cup! Where's Jack-o-lack? Go see fish? No, that way!" 

Chloe, you started calling yourself "Coco" at 16 months whenever you saw a picture of yourself or your reflection in the mirror. The nickname stuck and embodies you perfectly. I am in awe of all you do, say, and how much light you bring to those around you.


Fox and the Hound

Sure, they fight like any siblings do, but my little fox and hound duo are friends for life.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Tortoise and the...Monkey?

Jack came to lunch this week with a laundry basket on his back, told me he was a turtle and said he needed to eat in his shell. Fine with me.

Then of course, despite the fact that my daugher knows and signs "all-done," she insists on taking matters into her own hands when she's finished eating...

Let's just say it's never a dull moment with these two animals!

Thursday, September 26, 2013