Monday, June 30, 2008

pretty girl

playing with the peonies

sunlit shot

all smiles

when did my baby become a little girl?

Though she will still refer to herself as "baby," Madeleine amazes me each day with how capable, competent and communicative she is. This morning she came to me, saying, "Mama, ouch. Ouchie. Heel," lifting her leg to show me the bottom of her foot. Sure enough, embedded in the soft tissue of her heel was a splinter. This is just one of the ways she communicates her needs these days. She's also a great help at meals and snack times, nodding yes or vigorously shaking her head "No!" to indicate food selection. She wants to help with every household task and will simply throw a fit unless I let her help wash the floor (using her own mop), dust the furniture (her own rag), sweep up leaves (her own broom--you get the picture), brush the dog, etc, etc, etc. One of these days that help is really going to pay off, though now it can be somewhat of a struggle to find "work" for her to do.

Today Maddie was in an exceptionally good mood, grinning and hamming it up for all the cashiers at Costco, Trader Joe's & Lunardi's (yes, I had to visit 3 stores in order to create this week's meals, among other necessities). She sang her own little songs in her carseat between errands, making long sentences out of real and imagined words, cooing and smiling at me to make sure I was paying attention to the cuteness. 

For a long time Maddie has thought gentle means hitting (word association: every time she would get rough, I'd say "be gentle," and so thus became the antonym confusion). So we've been working on teaching her to be kind. This afternoon she petted me, the dog, the flowers, the chair with long, smooth strokes, repeating "nice," "gentle," and "baby...nice." This little routine went on for about 10 minutes, accompanied by lots of sweet soft kisses, which, luckily for me, fall into the "nice" category.

Another concept Maddie's learned in the last few weeks is that Dada is at work during the day. At random points throughout the time he's away, she'll mention to me "Dada. Work." and I nod and repeat. Today she said "Mama. Work." and I told her that Mama does work, but she doesn't leave home because her work is at home, taking care of Maddie. She watched and listened intently and repeated "Baby. Mama. Work." Though many days are challenging, what with Maddie's unending supply of energy and enthusiasm coupled with the desires of toddlerhood, most of my life's work with Maddie is characterized by joy, "happy!", and the intense satisfaction of being home to see each little piece fall into place. She is indescribably amazing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

A tale of a houseboat trip!

There were many who thought us crazy to take a seventeen month toddler on a week-long houseboat trip with 200 highschoolers. And they had their reasons. But after the fact, all we can say is that this Mama and Dada are more in love with their baby girl than ever before! Maddie astounded us with her easygoing and constantly happy personality, making the most of every new adventure on and off the water, creating joy for musicians and ski boat drivers alike, and rolling with the punches of a no-schedule vacation.

She made quick friends with everyone on the trip, but especially with our houseboat staff person Tara, "Uncle" Joe and Dave the surfer/musician. Maddie would climb right up into the laps of her new friends and share a snack, drink out of their nalgene, or plant a big kiss on their lips.

Other highlights: 5 a.m. sunrise hikes to avoid waking up our houseboat roommates, eating more snacks and drinking more water than ever thought possible, tubing behind the ski boat ("More! More!" the baby cried), watching Dave and Dada on the air chair and exclaiming "Oh no!" with every spill, worshipping with 200 high schoolers, napping in the Ergo pack on Mama or Dada, swimming in the big "pool," and "washing" all over with handfuls of Lake Shasta mud.

Enjoy the snapshots from our fun trip...

on the docks with Dada

driving the houseboat

one of many lake swims

peek-a-boo in the bread cupboard

the best lil' roadie with musician and new buddy Dave

passed out on a houseboat bunk

with my new friends Tara and Nolan (making me an Ariel balloon)

enjoying eating and wearing my bowl of pasta

Friday, June 13, 2008

Seventeen Months

Dear Maddie,

It's hard to believe that next month it will be a year and a half that you've been with us. Though you've only been around 17 months, it seems you've been a part of our lives, of us, forever. This morning at 5:40 am when you called out "MaMA!" I half laughed, half sighed at how completely you've taken over my heart. My pre-coffee, half-awake six o'clock self is no match for you: happy, loving, energetic and ready for breakfast.

I can't picture what my day would be like without you. Who would demand food constantly, putting away yogurt cups and cheese sticks and meatballs and broccoli like nobody's business? Who would read to me from her picture books, pointing out "kitty" and "kite," (um)"brella" and "baby," "girl" and "goggles?" Who would provide constant entertainment, singing, dancing, clicking, slapping, climbing, squatting, rolling, swinging, running and flailing all about the house?

Today in Costco a lovely old woman approached the cart and remarked that you looked like the answer to every parent's dream. I told her the truth: you are certainly the answer to mine. For the most part you have made parenthood a really smooth ride. You are amiable, gentle, loving, funny, talkative, snuggly, sweet, playful, inquisitive and caring. (You are also insistent, persistent, prone to squawking, and quite the climber/adventurer/daredevil, which are qualities that make you who you are but keep me on my toes).

This picture actually does a great job of capturing the fact that you rarely get frustrated. When you insisted on crawling into the pocket beneath your stroller I chose to let you go ahead, knowing at some point you would get stuck. But instead of giving up or getting upset, you found reason to laugh. This is how you approach most adventures these days: with dogged determination and curious as a cat, tempered by a sweet, happy, easygoing spirit.

As a matter of fact, when we were on vacation in Oregon, for the longest minute of my life, I thought I'd lost you. You disappeared from a play structure at a mall. I ran around twice, three times looking in tunnels and on structures, my heart beating inside my chest like the rumble of a freight train skimming past my nose. The scariest moment in my life quickly became one of the funniest as I found you, twenty yards away, sitting and posing for a photographer in the front of a Picture People studio. There you sat, barefoot and dirty, having pushed the well-dressed, fancy-coiffed patron off his skateboard, taking his place before the camera. My girl, always providing comic relief.

This seventeenth month brought lots of changes, from 3-hour naps that preceded 3 new teeth, including two delightful molars for chewing up the mountains of food consumed daily. It also brought countless new words and their funny combinations like "baby girl" and "dada man." You love to watch your reflection in the doors, dancing and talking and sticking out your tongue and putting on quite the show of self-amusement. And your are in the habit of giving out multiple delicious kisses each day and I never, ever tire of them.

Thank you for being you, for giving me life, for reminding me that no day is without adventure, no meal without mess, no kiss without sweetness. Thank you for saying "hi" to strangers, sharing your snacks with friends, being gentle with babies and kind to your dog. Thank you for giving me reason to love recklessly and wildly. You really are our dream come true.


at the park

after going down the slide

at the pool

*someone* was more interested in polishing off the remainder of Mama's breakfast than in swimming

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

caution...what you are about to see is truly shocking


First camping trip calls for first taste of beer*
*no beer actually consumed, just attempted

Oh, the horror! White shirt turns red from 
repeated exposure to mountain dirt!

Seriously Mom and Dad, what were you thinking?!

Oh, you know I had a great time!
I'm only kidding! :) It's all good!