Feathered Aspen

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Just the two of us

Dear Lu,

Here you are.  What a love.  A cuddlebug.  You and I, we spent the day together.  Just the two of us.  We hadn’t planned it that way.  This morning when you were playing with your daddy and sister, you scuttled over to daddy’s cup of tea and upended it over your foot.  What ensued was not pretty.  It involved being dunked in last night’s bathwater with your jammies still on, nursing between screams, sitting naked with your foot in a mixing bowl of water, rocking through your sobs and breaking your blister, falling asleep at the opportune moment where your mommy had to cut off the skin of the blister and bandage your foot, and then taking a three hour nap on mommy’s lap.

Oh dear.  To see you pain is another kind of pain itself.  You were writhing, little one, and I was nearly crying with you.

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But, as your sister would say, you are “tough as nails.”  When you woke up from your nap, you were cuddly and wanting to be held, but calm and sweet.  The open blister larger than a quarter on the top of your foot couldn’t keep you from smiling.

So we went for a walk in the gulch.  We rode the train, we walked through campus.  I sang to you, and you sang with me.  Your sweet little voice made the flowers bloom as we walked by.  You made the apple blossoms smell sweeter.

You’re growing up so fast.  You lift up your arms when I declare “so big!” And you giggle when I play peek-a-boo.  Your sister makes you laugh, and you make us laugh too, scuttling over the floor.  You’re not crawling, but you may as well be.  While not quite as fast, you can get everywhere you want to go, leaning forward and sliding your dust-covered bottom behind you.

You love to eat.  Asparagus, peas, spinach, cheese, eggs, pear, apple…  You want a little bit of everything.  I spread little raisin-sized bits over the tray of your high chair and you pick them up and feed them to yourself.  I love watching your focus as you set your sights on a piece, reach for it, and then pick it up between your pudgy index finger and thumb.  You use such care and quiet with small things.

While we were out and about, daddy and sister went on a date.  They fed chickens, ate fro yo, and shopped for our groceries.  Before she left, she counseled me:  “mommy, nurse my baby, she’s sad.”

We talked on the phone when they were out, and she asked, “Lu ok?”

And then, when we were back, she kissed Lu.  “You happy, Lu?”

I love watching your relationship with your sister unfold.  Every morning, both of you are eager to smile at one another.  Lily says “good morning,” and you squeal with delight.

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Watching the two of you makes me think of Khalil Gibran’s poem On Children, specifically:

You may give them your love but not your thoughts, For they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

I know I can’t determine the type of relationship the two of you will have.  I can’t be certain that you will be close or that you’ll seek each other out for advice or comfort.  But I hope.

The poem reminds me of an artist and their canvas or bronze.  They have intent, they exact form and color, they hope.  And then, the art works independently of the artist, inspiring things or provoking thoughts the artists could not have predicted.

Dear Lu,

Thank you for spending the day with me.  You even spirit is better than meditation.

I love you,

Mom


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You make life sweet

Dear Lily,

Yesterday, we woke up slowly.  Lu alternately stirred and slumbered beside me while you kicked the covers off and stretched your arms up and over your head.  Often, you wake with tears or frustration, but yesterday, you looked at me and smiled.  I turned to snuggle you, and with my arms around you, I asked, “what do you want to do today?  Do you want to go to the Children’s Museum?”

You looked at me and said, “no.  I want to spend time with you.  Stay home.  Paint.”

After a week of visitors that moonlight as celebrities, holding your awe and attention, it was the sweetest thing you could possibly say.  So we did.  We stayed home.  We painted.  We spent time together.  I read you no less than eight books, and you sat on my lap, leaning into me.

Today, it was much the same.  We were a team.  Simpatico.

So even though Spring Break wasn’t really a break in the sense that we got to relax or go on vacation, it was a break in the sense that our routine was broken, and now as we go back to that routine, I can appreciate its rhythms and lulls.  Sharing you is good.  I got to go on a date, clean the house, throw a party, and run with Joshua.  I got to cuddle Lu and know that you felt adored and special too.  I see how people love you and how you shine with that love.  I see how you make people happy.  But it’s nice to have you all to myself, too.  It’s nice to be the one you turn to when you can’t or don’t want to do it “all by yourself.”  It’s nice to be the one with whom you share your observations.  Seriously, “it’s a little bit chilly today,” or silly, “Thibodeaux is a round head, mommy,” or frankly, “otherwise, we could go to the library.”

Actually (“actually” you say) it’s better than nice.  It’s right up there with watching you act like a monkey in front of Lu and having her belly laugh with appreciation.  It’s up there with your daddy struggling to put his sandals on because his arms are full and you leaning down to hold the strap for him, without anyone saying a word.  It’s up there.

Dear Lily,

You’re three.  You’re old and you’re young.  You’re complicated and you’re simple.  You’re more than I ever expected.

Dear Lily,

You make life sweet.

Love,

Mom

Threenager


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Lily is Three!

We’re all a bit burnt from a busy birthday/Easter weekend.  There was a strawberry themed party, three church services, two baptisms, and Easter Dinner.  We have Papa and Granny visiting, and Joshua is coming off a few intense days of housework with Grumpy, who’s also in town.  It’s been so good, but now we’re all exhausted.

Birthdays mean I get to buy flowers :)

Birthdays mean I get to buy flowers :)

I always forget how much it takes to throw a party, and much of Friday and Saturday were spent making snacks and treats, cleaning and decorating.  Luckily, we had a ton of help with Papa and Granny.

Pretty eggs pre egg salad.

Pretty eggs pre egg salad.

We dyed eggs at the party.  Last year, I blew out the eggs and used natural dye….  Needless to say, we just hardboiled these suckers and used cheap dye this year.

Lily got a bike for her birthday :)

Lily got a bike for her birthday :)

We bought Lily a balance bike for her birthday.  She’s a bit nervous, but I’m dreaming of a summer day when we go for a walk and she’s independently cruising along.  Helmet courtesy of Boobah and Zeydah (thanks!) and lovely Elephant dress courtesy of Catherine and Donal (this is seriously my favorite little dress ever).

She's a bit hesitant...

She’s a bit hesitant…

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Lily has been lovely all weekend.  Yesterday I was still asleep when she leaned over me and said, “Mommy, it’s my birthday!”  She was very excited.

Threenager

Threenager

Egg hunt

Egg hunt

Joshua and Lily both have birthdays that will sometimes land on Easter Sunday.  An egg hunt was good birthday fun :)

Tricksy bunny hid one in the chandelier.

Tricksy bunny hid one in the chandelier.

Birthday strawberry shortcake cupcake.

Birthday strawberry shortcake cupcake.

Egg dying at the party.

Egg dying at the party.

Lily had a couple other toddlers at her party.  I wish we knew more kids!  But I don’t think she noticed.  We had Grandma, Grumpy, Nana, Papa, Granny, Auntie RaRa, Uncle David, Melanie, and Auntie Val in attendance too.

Evrrrythang strawberry

Evrrrythang strawberry

Sooooooo close to crawling.  Scooting just about everywhere.

Sooooooo close to crawling. Scooting just about everywhere.

Threenager take two

Threenager take two

Prolly my only successful baking attempt.  Ever.

Prolly my only successful baking attempt. Ever.

And that’s a wrap!  Happy Birthday Lily!  You are a light in my life.  I love spending every day with you, and I am so lucky to be your mom.  I love you so much.

If you’re curious, here’s Lily’s first and second birthdays.


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Rat Dance Party

 

 

I’ve told Lily to get dressed half a dozen times this morning with mounting frustration, and then I realized:  she’s playing independently.

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It’s a bit of a complaint/worry of mine.  This playing independently thing.  I feel like Lily never does it, and sometimes, man, sometimes I just want a break.  So imagine my surprise when I realize that maybe the answer is letting her muck about in her PJs.

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When I last wrote, I may or may not have been crying from pure frustration and self-loathing.  And while Lily is still throwing quite a few tantrums, we’re all ok.  Sometimes she’s going to be sad and furious and sometimes she’s going to be happy and silly.  I’m trying to roll with it.  Most of the time she wants us to be going somewhere and she wants someone to be playing with her, but sometimes she just wants to chill out in her PJs.  So I write.

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I took these photos a couple of days ago.  Lily was saying, “Oh my god, Lu.  You are so silly.  Mom!  Look!  She is just too silly!”  Which is I guess how I must sound most of the time.  Like a teenager?!

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I was listening to the radio the other day, and there was this report about a gene they’ve isolated associated with anti-anxiety.  People with this gene aren’t worriers.  They’re laid back.  They’re fine.  They don’t wonder if they’re shitty parents (I digress).  We were just coming off a tear and sweat soaked tantrum, and I was feeling sorry for Lily and myself.  Sorry, girl.  That gene is not in your DNA, and I’m pretty sure you came by that honestly.  We’re the rats that huddle in a corner when bright lights are flashing.

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But Lu?  She just might be the rat that starts dancing when the lights flash.  Wouldn’t that be fabulous?  I hope so.  But if not, we’ll get through this, all of us, together.

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Pancakes for Breakfast (and other misadventures)

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Sometimes, being almost three is hard; sometimes, being the mom of an almost three year old is hard.  This morning, Lily had a little tantrum over….  Well.  It seemed like everything.  She freaked out when I didn’t pour her enough milk.  She cried because she wanted chocolate in it.  She cried when I didn’t make the pancakes fast enough.  She cried trying to figure out how to put on her underpants….  And then her pants and her dress and her sweater and her socks and her shoes.  She cried when I had to nurse Billie and she wanted to go.  She cried over the snacks I decided to bring to the Science Museum (apple and hard boiled egg).

She cried when she had to walk from the truck to the museum.  She cried when we got into the museum because she couldn’t see me for a second.  She cried because she wanted to see the whale exhibit that has since closed and moved on.  She cried when I needed to use the restroom and she didn’t want to go.  She cried when she wanted to see birds and then dinosaurs and then turtles and then butterflies.  She cried when she was hungry for snack and then she cried when she realized she had lost her water bottle.

She cried when we sat in the Leprium Atrium for snack, and she cried when I asked her what was wrong and if she wanted to go to the park or go home.  She cried when I told her that it was hard listening to her whine and cry all morning long, and she cried when I told her that she could go sit over in the corner and cry because I just couldn’t listen to it anymore.

She cried when I asked her if she wanted a hug, and she cried when I kissed her forehead and told her I loved her.

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The hardest part about all of this is not knowing whether it’s normal, whether I’m doing something terribly wrong.  The hard part is being congratulated and told I’m doing something right when my children are happy and smiley and then going home to Lily sobbing and whining.

Kiss and an “I love you” first thing in the morning?  Check.

Pancakes on request for breakfast? Check.

Warmed and frothed milk?  Check.

Let her choose her outfit/hairstyle?  Check.

Let her choose today’s adventure?  Check.

Offers of hugs and help when upset?  Check.

Go find the lost water bottle?  Check.

Offer to go to the playground?  Check.

I would think these are the ingredients to a pretty splendid day, but instead, Lily sobbed, writhed, and whined through the whole thing.  I tried narrating the emotion, “are you hungry and frustrated?  I know you’re sad that you lost your water bottle, we’ll go find it.  Do you feel jealous?”  I tried telling her to calm down, “Lily, screaming ruins the experience for everyone around us.  I already told you were going to the room where we can have a snack.  If you can’t calm down, then we’re going to have to go.”  I tried explaining how I felt, “Lily, it’s really hard for mommy to hear you so upset.  Can you use your words?  I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what you want.”  In the end, I even tried ignoring her, walking out in front of the screaming three year old and glancing back every now and then to make sure she was following and safe.

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So…. That’s where we are today.  And see?  All the lovely photos?  I think that’s one of the parts that makes me feel like I don’t know what is normal.  In these photos, we’re all smiling.  Lily looks happy, like she loves her sister and her momma and she had a fun day, eating pancakes and going to the Science Museum.  Nope.  She didn’t.  And while I certainly hope she loves her sister and me, it was pretty dang hard to tell today.  I look at photos of other families and they look like this.  It makes me feel inadequate, but then again, I do the same.  I take pictures of us smiling, I try to tell you about all of the good and wonderful things in life, because recording those things is a form of thanks.  But then there are those days when the specter of all those smiles is hard to live up to.

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Dear Lily, I hope I’m doing this right.  I hope I’m not spoiling you or ruining you or pushing you away from me.  I hope that you grow up to be happy and strong.  I hope that you grow up to show love with your words and your hugs and your actions.  I hope you are good at solving problems and resilient and patient and kind.  I hope you can come to me when you need something, even if it’s just a hug (especially if it’s just a hug).  I hope you are confident and can see all the good in yourself.  I hope you know that you’re funny and sweet and smart.

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Maybe someday you’ll choose to be a mom, and maybe you’ll get how scary this is.  Who knows.  Maybe you’ll read this and your three year old will be giving you a run around too.  Or maybe you’ll have chosen a completely different and lovely life.  I hope I get to be a part of it, no matter what.

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And that photo above, that was the best moment of my day.  I told you that I was sad and frustrated and after another tantrum, “I’m nice! I’m nice!” You crawled on my back and laid on me for five minutes.  I’m a little worried that I mind-played you into it (is that my problem?  Trying so many parenting strategies that your mind-boggled?  Is it ok to ask your toddler to make you feel better when they’re so obviously not ok themselves?  Is Lily having problems because I’m too sensitive or there’s something wrong with me?  Is this the beginning of her hating me?  No, seriously, welcome to my mind’s narrative.)

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So, forgive me my self-doubt, my rant, and my frustration.  I’m so hopeful that I’ll be back soon to tell you about the sweet things Lily has done or said, Spring, and all that is good in life, because there’s so much.

Perfect


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Salida

I’ll start by saying there is a way for me to put all of these photos in order, but ain’t nobody got time for that, so here’s our little weekend getaway in reverse-order:

Playing dress up

Playing dress up

Lily and Lu were fabulous in the car on the way there and back.  Some iPad George came to the rescue for the last half hour or so on each trip, but otherwise, they were just great.  Lu, especially, is a dream car rider.

Happy to be home.  Playing dress up.

Happy to be home. Playing dress up.

Our friend, Val, coordinated everything, and we’re so lucky she did!  We rented a cabin at the Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, and it was SO.AMAZING.  Really just the best treat ever.  Thanks, Val!  You can see our cabin in the photo below.  We packed the place with eight adults and two little kiddos, but we had a blast (hope everyone else felt the same….  The kiddos are ours, after all.).  There was a loft with two fulls, a pull out, and a bedroom with a king.  Plus a kitchen, bathroom, and gorgeous little gas fireplace.  And?!  Only 97$ per adult for the two nights, total :) :)

On the drive up to Salida, we went through Leadville, stopping over at one of our favorite coffee shops and walking zig-zags through the residential streets, fantasizing about owning one of the old little Victorians that are crammed in side by side.  But after a while, Lily got tired of walking, so we got back in the car and headed south.

View of the bridge back to the cabin (in upper left corner).

View of the bridge back to the cabin (in upper left corner).

The first day, we got there early and used the pools, complementary with our nights’ stay.  Our first trip, is was snowing a bit and we used the two conventional pools above the river.  One was warmish, but actually a bit too chilly for 30ish degrees, and the other was a bit too warm to stay in for longer than 15 minutes or so.  Both were very nice and large.

Lu LOVED the springs.

Lu LOVED the springs.

After an hour or so, we packed up to meet up with the rest of our group and get settled in the cabin.  Will and I went for a run, and then we all went down to the river.  Which was the best part, really.  Of the whole weekend/this year so far (do I overstate?).

The river pools were so gorgeous because they could be adjusted by moving rocks.  Heat bubbles up from the sand beneath, and little rivulets of ice-fed water runs over the rocks.  I especially loved finding that sweet spot that was mostly warm but with a little stream of cool for relief.

Snack break.

Snack break.

Lily enjoyed the river, but I think she was just a bit out of sorts all weekend.  On both Friday and Saturday night, she woke up puking, and she’s been battling diarrhea for a week.  We went into the doctor on Thursday, but they recommended it just run its course…  Whatever “it” is.  We’re concerned “it” might be anything that contains or even grazes garlic.

Lu and Daddy (and Lily in the back).

Lu and Daddy (and Lily in the back).

So, that wasn’t pleasant, but really it wasn’t as nearly as bad as it could have been.  At least Lily wasn’t miserable.  She’d puke and then feel fine.  I just felt bad for Joshua.  Not really the way you want to spend the night before the big race.

So content :)

So content :)

So yeah.  Lu adored the pools.  I adored the pools.  Joshua liked them a lot (but generally doesn’t like getting too hot), and Lily liked them a lot too, but didn’t love them as much as I’d hoped she would.  I do think she had fun though.  Joshua thinks it was because there weren’t any other kids, and while I think that could certainly be true, I also hope that she kind of gets over it.  Sorry, girl.  Your parents just don’t have many friends with kiddos.  I’m trying, but it is what it is.  Our friends without kids are pretty amazing, and our friends with kids all live almost exactly half a continent away.  Se la vie.  I told Joshua that I think my childhood was somewhat similar.  Apart from my cousins, I was used to being the oldest or just hanging out with adults.  I’d love for more playmates for Lily, but I’m also hopeful that she can learn to enjoy the company of adults and younger kids, too.

Just bliss.  Me, the girls, the springs.

Just bliss. Me, the girls, the springs.

Lu, though.  Lu was just happy as a little river clam.  If that’s a thing.

Perfect

Perfect

On the day of the race, we went into town last and poked around the little shops.  Salida is a pretty darn cute mountain town, so I love that this is becoming an annual thing.  It’s our second year making a family trip out of it, and it’s Joshua’s third year running it.

Love this shot of Lily in Salida

Love this shot of Lily in Salida

Joshua had high hopes for his race this year.  He’s put in a lot more miles training for this race than he had in years before, but as fate would have it, the course was just a bit sloppier than usual.  (Some parts were even postholing?!)  Anyway.  He did PR on the course by about 3 minutes, even though the course was pretty rough, and he felt good afterwards, which is great.

Daddy finishes his marathon.

Daddy finishes his marathon.

Of the people in our cabin, three ran the 1/2 and Will and Joshua ran the full.  They all finished within about an hour of each other.  While we waited, we hung out by the river and watched super hard core ultramarathoners swagger about, reminiscing over building ice caves to escape hypothermia and those races where lightening threatened to pull them off the course indefinitely.

Throwing rocks in the river while we wait for daddy.

Throwing rocks in the river while we wait for daddy.

Lily vacillated between crabbiness and enjoyment.  I’m beginning to think this is what three is like.

Exploring shops in Salida

Exploring shops in Salida

#instagrambackground

#instagrambackground

Totally sacked

Totally sacked

Breakfast on the go:  "Let's go to Salida!"  (ps this photo kinda freaks me out bc she looks like a teenager).

Breakfast on the go: “Let’s go to Salida!” (ps this photo kinda freaks me out bc she looks like a teenager).

After the race, we had lunch at The Fritz and then we headed back to the cabin.  While Lily took a nap, I went out for a nice seven mile run in the valley, and afterwards, we went out to the pools.  For dinner, we had tacos, and then we turned in early.

This morning, we grabbed a quick breakfast, said goodbye to our cabin mates, and snuck in another little wallow in the river.  The sunshine was glorious, and we fantasized about making this a vacation staple.  Hey, guys!  Wanna go to the hot springs?


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8 mos/35 mos

Hello World!  The sun is shining, Stacy and Ellison* are in town, and this coming weekend we’re off to Salida!  Life is so good, especially now that February or as I like to call it, the longest shortest month of the year, is done.  There are many things I love about winter, but without some nicely groomed ski trails nearby, the cold and the ice can be a huge drag.  Especially with kiddos.  Plus, there’s something about those dark months of January and February after the bustle and cocoa of the holidays that’s just plain lonely.

But right now, we’re feeling great! Nothing like friends and a little Vitamin D to give you a whole new perspective.

So, in those 10 minutes when both of my daughters are sleeping, I thought I’d share a few brief updates:

Lu:  Eating more and more these days.  After a slow start (she really wasn’t interested until a couple of weeks ago), she’s now grabbing for my food, reaching to intercept spoons, and getting frustrated when she doesn’t get a little of what we’re having.  She’s had pureed tortellini with pesto, egg, purreed rice with kale and mushrooms, broccoli, potato, polenta with ragu, apple, carrot, and a bunch of other little nibbles of anything we’re eating.  She’s got a pretty strong gag reflex, so we’re trying to blend everything or give it to her in tiny grain-sized bites, but I’m looking forward to when I can just hand her an apple to gnaw on.

In terms of movement, she’s leaning over and grabbing things, scooting on her butt, and traversing quite a distance that way.  She’s pulled herself up onto her knees a few times, and she also has gotten onto her hands and knees and rocked, but no crawling yet.  She loves picking up small objects, and I like letting her do that while I watch because she’s so graceful and focused on coordinating her fingers.  Right now, she’s loving anything that’s paper, and I’m constantly removing choke-sized bits of paper from her fists, much to her dismay.  She also loves plastic bags, so I let her play with little sandwich sized ones sometimes.

In terms of interaction, she’s smiling so much these days, fooling people into thinking that she might want to be held by them ;) She’s so easy going, but it’s rare that she’ll tolerate someone other than her mama holding her.  Joshua definitely has the most luck (though I’m afraid it doesn’t feel like it to him).  She also is giving snuggles that look and feel more and more like hugs, and the other day, she even played a little peekaboo with my scarf and then leaned her face into my chest every time I asked for a hug.

Lily:  Is potty trained!!!!  Hurrah!  Sure, it may have taken almost exactly a year, but when it really happened, it happened fast.  One day we were in diapers, and the next, we were only in diapers for nap and night.  We had two accidents in the first couple of days, and now, I’ll sometimes ask her if she needs to go, but usually, she just takes care of it herself or let’s me know when we’re out and about.  I’m so proud of her.  In the end, it took the push of me saying, “no more diapers” and her crying a little bit, but the transition was so quick that I think she really was completely ready.  I know there’s lots of kids out there that have been potty trained for ages and Lily’s might seem late, but it doesn’t diminish how proud I feel of this independent little girl.  You go Lily!

This past week, we had another rough patch.  Lily tried something new:  an insult.  I’d like to be that confident woman who is not even phased, but even after years as a middle school teacher, it still hurt, aaaaand as usual, my wounded response just made things worse.  God, I can be such a mope sometimes.  I texted Brittaney, and she was just great.  She’s so encouraging, and I come away from those exchanges feeling like this is normal! Keep on! Show her love and be firm!  It’ll be ok!  There’s nothing wrong with you or her!  And it’s that last one that really gives me the strength to go back and set the tone.  To show her that it’s not ok to treat others poorly, but even when she does, I’m not going away and I’m strong enough to be there through it all.

And then, like any other almost three year old, she can also be so sweet.  “I love you SOOO much, Ellison!”  Kissing my “lonely” cheek, and curling up on my lap for stories.  The other morning, I was at my wits end trying to get out the door, but once we were outside, she grabbed my hand (unsolicited) and announced cheekily, “Mama, I’m a monkey.  I’m a green monkey!”  (She had dressed herself from head to toe entirely in kelly green.)

I was asking my mom about myself as a little girl, curious about how Lily and I were similar or different.  I think our intensity and affinity for order and schedule are very similar.  (For example, whenever we move furniture, Lily breaks down in sobs.)  Although both my mom and dad say that I was a little more serious and quiet.  I do see some of myself in her in social situations where she’s clearly fascinated by watching other people and seeing them interact, but often too shy to go and join in.  And, like me, when she is comfortable with a group, she has no problem talking up a storm and being in the thick of it.

That’s all for now.  Spring is in the air, and even though I’m sure it will snow again, our little seedlings are coming up and the sun feels warm on our bare arms.  I feel like singing :)

*Yeah.  That’s my name.  Yeah.  That’s this little one’s middle name.

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