Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Skin Deep?

I've lived in this house for over nine years. And I seriously believe I can count on both hands the times I've stepped outside without makeup. I don't mean full on beauty-pageant stuff. I'm just talking a swipe of mascara and lip gloss. Still neurotic, though, right? Not walking to the mailbox until I've taken a quick look in the mirror? Dabbing on "a little something" before I go to the gym or the pool?

But this is important, now, because I'm raising a daughter.

A daughter who watches my every move and imitates my every action. One who often asks if her hair looks pretty "Like Sleeping Beauty's hair?" and begs to wear my lipstick and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE could I curl her hair, just once?

However, here she is with a mother who isn't confident in my own beauty. A mother who sometimes counts my own worth in a number on the scale or how my hair behaves, instead of the paintings I made with Evie at the kitchen table yesterday or the books I read to Ethan very early in the morning or the times my heart throbs with love for my children.

My first instinct, when Evie asks "Do I look like Gabby from Desperate Housewives?" is to tell her just how beautiful she is. That her eyes are radiant and her hair is so pretty when it curls in the back and her little bow lips are the most perfect thing I've ever seen. I want her to know just how beautiful she is.

But I also want her to know how much more there is than looking beautiful. In this culture, we are so bombarded with images of beauty and sex and youth. And the sad thing is, it has soaked into my brain. Being pretty can feel better than being nice.

So how do I teach her that yes, she's beautiful. How do I teach her that, yet teach her not to care? I want her to be confident, but to know other things count more. I want Evie to think it's more important to love like Jesus, to be kind, to share things we have with others who don't have as much, to forgive. I want her to think it's more attractive to be smart and to dream big than to have shiny hair. When she's 20, I want her to be happy to have a healthy body and not just a body that looks good in a bikini.

I want her to BE beautiful, and not just look beautiful.

My own reality is warped, though. I know all the things on the inside count more. I know it. But I also feel so judged by my appearance. How do I teach her to be different?

And so I'm at a new place in my parenting journey. Teaching Evie NOT to be like me. Here's my first venture into "Do as I say, not as I do." I'm going to give it my best shot, and we'll know in about 15 years if I got it right!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Springtime always makes me think of my grandmother. Grandma Nev had the greenest thumb you would ever meet. She had a veritable forest of potted plants surrounding her house, odd things growing up and down the driveway, and seas of flowers in the backyard. And the most angry I ever remember seeing her was when I pulled up the Clematis vines while pretending to build a fort under her pine tree.

She passed away several years ago, on a cold December day. But December wasn't her time of year - it was spring - and so I especially miss her on sunny days like today.

Since Grandma Nev has been on my mind, I invited my extended family to come over this past weekend for a day of Orahnjaca making. Orahnjaca is a recipe from Old Country, a Croatian nut roll. It's what I think of most when I remember my grandmother's cooking. (Let's just say she wasn't as good at cooking as she was at gardening.) But Orahnjaca is something that she always made well.

This recipe always takes longer than I expect. If you make it, have plenty of snacks and loved ones around to make the waiting fun. And don't stress out about following my directions exactly - my grandmother was not one to follow a recipe, so I think this is pretty fool-proof.


Dough Ingredients:
5 Tbsp. warm milk
7 Tbsp. sugar
2 packages yeast
1 c. butter, melted (2 sticks)
5 eggs
2 tsp. salt
5 c. flour

Combine milk and sugar in large bowl. Mix by hand. Add yeast and mix again. In a separate bowl, combine butter and eggs. Add to yeast/milk/sugar mixture. Add salt and mix again. Little by little, add flour. Work with your hands until the dough doesn't stick to the bowl. Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk. This will take about three hours.
Divide dough in half. Work a few times with your hands and roll into a 10X15 inch rectangle on a floured board. Spread with half of nut mixture and roll length-wise. Transfer to ungreased baking sheet. Cover with tea towel and let rise again, for about an hour. When Orahnjaca is ready to bake, the dough will spring back when you touch it with your finger.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool, then drizzle with icing.

Nut filling:
1 lb nuts (about 2 c) (We use pecan meal, but the traditional recipe calls for walnuts.)
1 c milk
1 c dark brown sugar
1 stick butter, melted

Add all ingredients together in a medium saucepan. Cook on medium heat until mixture is uniform and not clumpy.

Zest from one lemon
2 sticks butter, melted
1 c. powdered sugar
milk (optional)

In a small saucepan, add lemon to melted butter. Add powdered sugar. Stir until smooth. If the icing is too thick to be able to drizzle, add a few teaspoons of milk.


Lisa hosts Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays over at Blessed with Grace. Visit her for more yummy recipes!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Since my first day as a stay at home mom, Evie and I have had a nap routine. We cuddle together in my bed until she falls asleep. For the most part, it's always been a nice time in our day. A few quiet moments together before Evie drifts to dreamland.

But when I was pregnant with Ethan, I started to worry about this routine. First of all, Evie was almost three years old. I knew she should be falling asleep on her own. And how would I manage to keep this up with an infant in the house?

The subject came up once with my doctor. I remember explaining to Dr. Jewell that I still held Evie or snuggled with her until she fell asleep. Instead of a reproachful look, he told me it was okay, that he rocked his kids to sleep until they were well past three. Then he gave me a little pearl of wisdom: Evie is never going to be mad that I helped her fall asleep. She is never going to grow up and say "Mom, you loved me too much."

So I decided then and there to keep our routine. If I needed to change things when Ethan arrived, I would deal with it then.

But I haven't. There has not been even a single day when I couldn't find the time to lay next to Evie under the covers. Lately, though, I have been rushing her. I want her to fall asleep quickly because Ethan could wake up any minute and need me. I want her to fall asleep quickly because I use the time when both of my children are sleeping to return phone calls, to empty the dishwasher, to catch up on Desperate Housewives while I fold a load of laundry.

Because of this, our routine hasn't been very nice lately. I save minutes by refusing to sing to her. I cut corners and don't tell a story or read from the journal I kept when she was a baby. I growl at her to be still, to close her eyes, to stop talking. And as soon as she falls asleep, I sneak out.

But yesterday, the thought occurred to me that I was changing what used to be one of the best parts of our day. I thought about wanting a baby with all my heart, and not being able to have one. At that time, I would have given anything to be in bed with my daughter, whispering the story of how Daddy proposed or laughing when she randomly said "My hands look a lot like dog hands."

Yesterday, I put my face close to hers. I smelled her hair, her strawberry-shampoo-girly-scent. When she rolled over, I kissed her little back. I put my arm around her until I felt her breathing become even and slow. Still, I stayed with her. I watched her long eyelashes flutter in her sleep.

And I thanked God for her, for this time with her.

I am going to do my best not to wish these days away. I won't wish for the day she can fall asleep on her own. I won't wish for the day when I'm not slowed down by buckling two kids into their car seats. I won't wish for the day I'm not picking up Barbies and Crayons and blocks from the floor. I won't wish for the day when Ethan can drink milk from a sippy cup or go on the potty. I won't wish for the day Evie can brush her own hair.

I will savor these days, because I already know they don't last. But I will enjoy them for as long as I can.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Disney on Ice - Let's Celebrate!

So, we see a lot of Disney shows. I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in a program from Mom Central and Feld Entertainment, and my family has received many a free ticket.

This week, we went to the Let's Celebrate show here in St. Louis. And it is by far the best live Disney show I've seen.

Not only did we celebrate unbirthdays with Alice in Wonderland...
Not only did we celebrate Christmas and Valentine's day...
Not only did we see every.single.Princess, even the newest Princess Tiana...
Not only did we see Buzz and Jessie and Woody...
And Tinkerbell was there...

But we also celebrated Halloween with Jack Skellington and all the Disney villans! That one act had to be my favorite by far. The music was great, the skating was great, the action was great. And how often do you get to see all those villans together? Cruella DeVille, Jafar, the Evil Queen and witch from Snow White, Captain Hook, and plenty of goblins made for a very fun scene.

Of course, Evie's face lit up at the sight of the Princesses. That had to be the best moment of the night, just watching her face, mouth in an "O." She danced and clapped and sang along. Just perfect - BURST!

You can still purchase tickets to Let's Celebrate for this weekend's performances. Click here, and use coupon code MOM in the MC Promotion box to get four tickets for $44.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I haven't been inspired to write lately. Which is odd, since I have two of the most precious little inspirations living right under my roof.

I am a very happy person. Even in the midst of a struggle, I can look around and see the blessings in my life. I get these little bursts of joy every single day, sometimes from small ordinary things. It could be the glint of light on my wedding ring, Evie's smile, the first shoot of a crocus poking out of the earth, or a song on the radio. But my heart swells and the world feels right and I know just how lucky I am to be living this life. My wonderful life.

For several weeks in February, though, those little bursts were missing. It's not that I was unhappy. But I was just going through the motions of my life, watching it happen in front of me. I wasn't participating.

This had never happened to me before. Where was my joy? How could I get it back?

So I started working out again. It made me feel better about myself and gave me some alone time. I sometimes sit and talk with friends and have a cup of coffee afterward. But no bursts of joy. I got a new haircut. No burst. I prayed about it, asking God to make me aware of the blessings that surround me, to make me feel them in my heart. Still not a single burst. I tried to talk to Chris about it once, laying in the dark. He didn't understand what I was trying to say, and the conversation quickly became an argument. Definitely no burst there.

And just when I started thinking I should talk to my doctor about postpartum depression, the sun came out. Literally.

Early last week, a little bit of springtime crept into St. Louis. The breezes blew just a tiny bit warmer and I felt the sun on my face. I don't know if it was really the long Midwestern winter or my hormones, but I finally feel like myself again. Everywhere I look, I find inspiration and joy.

Yesterday, I was patting Ethan's back, trying to get him to fall asleep for his afternoon nap. He craned his neck over to look at my face. And he laughed. He couldn't stop - it was one of those silly, tired laughs. It made me laugh, and then Evie joined in. Burst!

Last week we went for a walk in the sun with one of our neighbors. Then Evie and the girls drew chalk pictures on the driveway. Such bright colors, such bright faces full of smiles. Burst!

When I change Ethan's poopy diapers, he laughs. It distracts me from the fact that I'm changing a poopy diaper, and makes me laugh, too. Burst!

The other day, Evie ran into the living room with a mini Sleeping Beauty doll. She asked "Is this the future?" I was baffled. She explained that she had finally put Sleeping Beauty's pink dress on by herself. And then I remembered telling her not to give up, that if she kept trying, she would be able to put the dress on all by herself, one day in the future. Burst!

I was on the computer in the kitchen yesterday, and I glanced into the living room. Ethan was sitting in a chair, and Evie had climbed up next to him. She had her arm around him and was reading him an Easter book. Burst! Burst! Burst!

Evie was making cupcakes in her play kitchen the other day, and she was so excited about adding extra shredded cheese to the cupcakes. She even made sure to add some on top. Burst!

A few nights ago, we were saying our prayers before bed. And Evie said "Jesus, please help me sleep through the night, so I don't get into trouble from Mommy." Burst!

Right now, my mom and Evie are playing with pop beads at the kitchen table. I'm listening to their conversation and their laughs. Burst!

So I'm inspired again. Inspired and loving this life. Burst! Burst! Burst!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Disney Live! Rockin' Road Show

After you've seen a couple snowfalls, after Christmas has come and gone, after you've exhausted just about every indoor activity you can think of, winter kind of stinks.

I'm feeling like I've been stuck inside for far too long.

Which is why I'm so excited to be taking my family OUT! Next weekend, we're going to the Disney Live! Rockin' Road Show. As part of the audience, we'll help Mickey in his talent search to find the coolest acts around. We're planning to sing, dance, and bounce around during this show! And we won't be alone - Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Buzz, Woody, Tigger, and Cinderella will be there, too!

Feld Entertainment has provided the tickets for my family. In addition, they've provided a 4-pack of tickets to the Saturday, February 20th (6:30 PM) show for me to give away! To enter, just leave a comment on this post about what you do to beat the winter blahs. You must comment before 5:00 PM on Thursday, February 11th. Also, be sure to leave me your email address. I'll choose a random winner Thursday night and post their name on Friday.

If you don't win, you can still get a discount on tickets you purchase! Use the code MBLOG to receive your tickets for $18 - a savings of up to $13! (Additional service charges, facility, and handling fees still apply.)

Performances are at Chaifetz Arena at the following dates and times:
Saturday, February 20th - 12:30, 3:30 & 6:30 PM
Sunday, February 21st - 1:00 PM

I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Hot Wing Dip

Once upon a time, I didn't care about the Super Bowl. Sure, it was a time to eat too much junk food and have a few drinks with friends. But I would have rather watched something else.

Then I got a job at Anheuser-Busch. And because my department was part of Marketing Research, I worked on Super Bowl Sunday. All night, in fact, until the sun rose Monday morning. There was food, and beer if I recall, and the game playing on the projection screen in the conference room. It had the makings of a party, but it was no doubt work. After the game ended, we spent the rest of the night compiling consumer feedback on our ads. It was always exciting, our night to shine. But I missed watching the Big Game with my friends and family.

So I no longer take Super Bowl gatherings for granted. I love crowding around the television, rooting for my team. I love the trash talk. I love giggling whenever they say "tight end." Of course, my favorite part is still the commercials.

And here is a dip worthy of any party this Sunday.

Hot Wing Dip
2 lb. boneless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. ranch dressing
1 c. Frank's Hot Sauce
16 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together and bake for 20 minutes. Serve with celery and tortilla chips.


Lisa hosts Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays over at Blessed with Grace. Visit her for more yummy recipes!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sowing the Seeds of Love - Day 1

With Valentine's Day less than two weeks away, we're starting to get crafty. Evie and I have lots of fun things planned - heart wreaths and garlands, a Valentine mouse, sun catchers, tissue paper hearts, and marble painting. But we kicked things off yesterday with something we've never tried before... growing grass.

It's simple. First, we cut a heart shape from a sponge. We moistened the sponge and sprinkled it with grass seeds. Then came the best part for Evie - gently spritzing the seeds with water from her spray bottle. Finally, we covered the sponge with plastic wrap, just until the seeds sprout.

We'll spray the seeds with a bit of water each day, and practice patience, waiting for the grass to grow. By Valentine's Day, Evie will have a grassy heart she can "mow" with scissors! We can't wait to share the results with you in a few weeks!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beauty in the Ordinary

I live very ordinary days. There isn't much sophistication in my life right now. I cook meals, clean the house, change diapers, play with my children. But even though my days aren't filled with glamor, they are full of beauty.

Yesterday I looked out the kitchen window and watched as huge, fluffy flakes of snow fell. The air was full of feathery bits, and it was a wonder to behold.

Sometimes when I feed Ethan in the dim light late at night, his chubby fingers reach for my face. During our afternoon dance parties with Evie, he lets out peals of laughter. When I wash dishes, I often put him in the bouncy seat on the kitchen counter where he coos to me, little conversations. Such sweetness is in that tiny voice.

Evie has the biggest smile you will ever see. It brings out her hidden dimple, lights up her face. She is full of music, constantly singing under her breath. She surrounds herself with pretty things - things that are pink and shiny. Things that sparkle, like her. And her voice saying "I love you, Mommy," has to be one of the most beautiful things on this Earth.

Tuesday, when Evie woke up from her nap, she said "It smells beautiful in here." It did; her favorite pot roast was simmering away, filling our house with savory smells.

There is beauty in answered prayers from my loving God. And sometimes, there is even beauty in the unanswered prayers.

There is beauty in my milky coffee with hazelnut syrup. In a gleaming floor I just mopped myself. In a shaft of sunlight falling on the carpet. In a watercolor picture from my daughter. In a phone conversation with my sister. In a look from my husband. In a bead of sweat from a good workout. In sharing laughter with friends. In my mother, waiting to hear her PET scan is clean. In the still quiet of nap time.

Especially in winter, the gray can take over. Sometimes, you just have to look closely at your life to see the beauty. And oh, I live a beautiful life.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Three Years

Sweet Evie,

You are three years old. Three. Years. Old.

And you are simply amazing, my sweet girl.

Right now, you are behind me at the kitchen table. You're coloring and singing a Taylor Swift song. It still surprises me how independent you are. Most of the time when you want something now, you get it for yourself. You choose clothes, and bring them to me to help you get dressed. Sometimes you come out of your room, already wearing your outfit for the day - shoes and all! You get your own lip gloss, your own coloring books, your own toys. And I've stepped out of the shower to find you at the kitchen table, eating lollipops you took from the pantry on your own.

Whatever Daddy and I are doing is what you want to be doing. You love to type on the computer and send email. You make lists all the time - To Do lists and grocery lists. You breastfeed your baby dolls, then you burp them and change their diapers. You help Daddy chop veggies for dinner and you help me cook. You try to pay at restaurants with your pretend credit card. You vacuum and dust and wash dishes. Your purse is next to mine on the counter, and your baby bag is lined up next to Ethan's. Yesterday, I saw you holding your baby in a sling, patting the doll on the bottom and swaying from side to side. You were my mirror image, and it made me laugh.

You love your little brother. I like it when you drag your step stool into his room and put it next to his crib. You stand on it and talk to Ethan if he's fussing. And it almost always makes him stop. He watches you and smiles. You tell him things all day - "Ethan, this is my baby's bottle." or "Ethan, look at my gum!" or "Ethan, we're going to the dentist!" You're a constant narrator of our actions.

And you never, ever stop talking. Mostly, it's cute and funny. Occasionally, it's purely maddening. You talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Then you talk, talk, talk some more. You tell me things you see, things you think, things you remember. Your memory, seriously, is better than mine. You have a mind for details.

You still like to play games. In addition to our tried-and-true games, you like I Spy and Sequence for Kids. But most of all, you are addicted to the Wii. Several evenings a week, you and Daddy disappear downstairs to play video games. When I describe things you like to other people - art, dressing up, singing - you always chime in "And I like to play the Wii!"

Your favorite foods are Ramen Noodles, rice, butter bread, and pot roast. Your favorite treat is bubble gum. You love fruit and vegetables of any kind. You have discriminating tastes for a pre-schooler - your favorite restaurants are Macaroni Grill and Hacienda. You must be eating well, too, because you finally made it into the 10th percentile for your weight!

You began taking gymnastics a few weeks ago. This is the first class you've taken where I don't participate with you. After class, you describe what you did, and you often demonstrate for me. And you'll excitedly tell me your plans for next week, "Next week we're going to do tumbling, and maybe the balance beam!"

You love reading books of any kind. Sometimes you look at the pictures on your own and try to come up with the story. Sometimes you "read" a book you've memorized. But our very favorite is when you curl into the bend of my arm, and I read you stories before bed. It's such a cuddly and special time for the both of us.

I remember when you were growing in my womb, imagining what you would be like. And you are better than anything I ever dreamed. You are sweet and funny. You are kind and sassy. You are tiny and smart. You are generous of heart. You are beautiful.

And you are mine. My first miracle baby, growing up right in front of me. I don't want to miss a single second.

I love you forever.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dear Mattel

To Whom it May Concern at the Barbie Factory:

Please stop manufacturing clothes for Barbie that can be removed in less than a minute by a two-year-old, yet take a thirty-three-year-old woman ten minutes to put back on. You are wasting my life. Unless you think it's fun to have a naked doll party in your living room every. single. day.

And, for God's sake, just paint the shoes on!

Evie's Frazzled Mom

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Asian Pears

Monday, we were driving in the car when we passed the dreaded McDonald's.

Evie: Can we please stop and get some apple dippers?
Me: No, we already passed it. Besides, we have some yummy Asian pears at home.
Evie: Are you going to eat one, Mommy?
Me: Yes. I love Asian pears.
Evie: But, you're not Asian!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mexican Coffee

This cold and miserable weather has me wishing for the beach lately. When I look out the window at the gray expanse of, well, everything, I pine for the sun and the sand. So I pop in my new Kenny Chesney CD and play one of his "beachy" songs. I sing along while I'm doing the dishes. And I dream I'm in Mexico.

I love the beach. I love the warmth of the sun on my skin. I love the powdery sand underfoot. I love the sound of the waves. At the beach, I don't even mind the freckles on my nose. I love how the salty air makes my hair wavy and wild. I love having nothing to do but sit by the pool and soak up the day. Maybe read a book. Maybe nap in a hammock. Maybe just watch the ocean.

At the last resort we visited, they made the best Mexican Coffee. On cold days like this, it's a perfect way to reminisce...

Mexican Coffee
3/4 c. coffee beans, ground
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 c. water
1 c. milk
1/3 c. chocolate syrup
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Place coffee and cinnamon in filter basket of coffee maker. Add water and brew as directed. In a saucepan blend milk, chocolate syrup, and brown sugar. Stir over low hear until the sugar dissolves. Combine milk mixture and brewed coffee. Stir in vanilla.


Lisa hosts Tempt My Tummy Tuesdays over at Blessed with Grace. Visit her for more yummy recipes!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Let Me Count the Ways

My dear husband,

With a new baby and a very active preschooler in our home, romance is sometimes put on the back burner. I focus my attention on Ethan and Evie and their needs. And then on things like dinner and washing bottles and going to the gym. And then on sleeping. And then, finally, you get the time that's left over. Which is very, very minimal.

So today I want to remind you about all the reasons I am in love with you. I want to remind you about why I chose you "until death do us part." Because there is not a better partner for me on the entire Earth.

I love that you are a Christian. When all is said and done, that's really one of the most important things I can count. Saturday night at church, I was so happy watching you talk to Evie about how we will incorporate daily faith-building into our lives. And I know we will. You make sure we say prayers at dinnertime and you talk about Jesus. Out of all the reasons I love you, Honey, this one is for Eternity.

I love the father you have become. Remember how scared we were when Evie was first born? From the Daddy-Daughter Dance to what seems like millions of diapers, from breastfeeding to dining out in restaurants, from The Backyardigans to Word World to Yo Gabba Gabba, from turtles to Princesses, you were there in the trenches with me. I love that you scold me for buying too much for Evie, and yet you always come home with a treat for her. And now we have our beautiful Ethan, whose smile is just starting to light our lives. I look at you holding him, your mirror image, and my heart melts.

I love that you help with household chores. I haven't done a single load of laundry in almost ten years. I've never mowed the lawn or raked leaves and grass clippings. I don't know how to use the weed whipper. Since Ethan has been born, I've only been to the grocery store once, and that's because I wanted out of the house! I don't take the trash to the curb or haul the empty cans back up. I rarely even have to put gasoline in my car.

I love your scientific, rational mind (most of the time!) You think things through clearly. You do your research. And then you research some more. You're a good match for my emotional decision-making tendencies. Between the two of us, we make a normal person. But I love that you can also let go and be silly. Whether it's making funny faces, threatening to dress up as DJ Lance, or imitating me, you can always make me laugh.

I love that you are a good provider. I don't know many husbands who are willing to make the sacrifices you've made so I can be home with our children. It means the world to me.

I love that you've always been there for me during hard times. When I hated my job, when I fought with my roommate, when we tried and tried and tried to have a baby - both times. Somehow, when things are difficult for me, you know how to cheer me on. I know I will survive because you're by my side.

I love you for all the million little things you do to show me you care. You warm up the Bed Buddy and put it by my feet each night. You hold branches back when we take walks. You give me your arm when it's icy out. You spent tens of hours on complicated painting techniques for both nurseries - not for our kids, but for me. You kept my cat for seven years, even though he gave you asthma. And you changed his litter box. You chop veggies for me when I cook. And I will never, ever forget when you jumped in front of that firework so I didn't get hit.

I love your kisses. The sweet little kisses and the big passionate kisses. I love that you sometimes wrap your arms around me in your sleep. I love being cuddled next to you. I love holding your hand in the car.

I love that you let me be exactly who I am. I am more myself when I am with you than when I am alone. You center me, you ground me.

I can't imagine going through this life without you.


Friday, January 8, 2010


Motherhood is hard. Motherhood is wonderful. It's both, all at once.

When I was pregnant with Evie, I imagined holding her while she was sleeping. And kissing her sweet head. And tickling her fat little toes. I imagined hearing coos and whispering songs in her ear and contentedly rocking her in the dead of night.

And those things happened. Those were blissful moments, to be sure.

But I didn't imagine how I would handle a baby in the backseat of the car, screaming her pretty little head off. I didn't consider what it would be like to try to coax her back to sleep for hours at 2 AM. I had no idea how hard it would be to get poop stains out of her clothes after she'd been on antibiotics for a week. And don't get me started on the balancing act of keeping up with dishes and vacuuming and taking a shower and working and commuting and still finding time to mother her.

So I was much more prepared for Ethan's arrival. I knew what I was getting myself into. I was prepared for all the pitfalls. All the bumps in the road. All the exhaustion and mundane routine of the first months and years. I was terrified.

Other than that first week in the NICU, though, he's been an easy baby. He's sweet and fat and sleepy most of the time. My fears have been largely unfounded. Evie loves him, wants to be near him, talks to him, sings to him, wakes him up just to try and play, "shares" her lip gloss with him.

Oh, does he have my heart! When someone else is holding him, Ethan looks around for me. I can see his little eyes searching me out. He puts his head on my shoulder and curls his legs in and sleeps. He coos sweet nothings to me.

And he has the best smile. The worst day could be cured by his gummy grin. I don't even have to do anything to earn this reward - he just looks at me. In the morning, in the afternoon, at dinner, in the middle of the night... He only looks at me and breaks into a wide smile. His face brightens and his dimple appears.

These smiles from my children - Evie's over-the-top, head-tilted, laughing smile and Ethan's toothless, bright grin - are all the payment I'll ever need for this job with the title of "Mother."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I Hope You're All Happy

So when Evie asked for Ramen Noodles at breakfast this morning, I made them for her. She should thank the blog world for her change in fortune.

And now that the holidays are over, and we're healing from the loss of my dad, expect to hear from me more often. I've missed you all.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Cute as a Bug

Chris: Evie, how did you get so cute?
Evie: From Mommy.
Chris: Just Mommy?
Evie: Yes, just from Mommy.

I love this girl...