Month 24

Dear Violet,

Last week you turned (drumroll please) Two. Years. Old. Mommy may or may not have just spent an hour looking at your baby photos and pinching my nose to keep from crying. Why is it that meeting you is something that feels like only months ago, yet you’re two years old now? Well, according to us, at least. According to YOU, you’re “two half.” Where you got the half from, I truly do not know, but you refused to ever say “one,” always saying you were two back at 18 months, so my guess is you think you’re six months older than you actually are.


Lord knows you ACT six months older than you actually are. A few weeks ago I was pushing you on the swing, and I noticed you leaning back and forward in perfect rhythm. You’ve already learned to push yourself! I’ve been telling Noah to watch you for tips! And you are talkative and active enough to fool everyone into thinking you’re older, too. I wish I could keep track of all the new things you say and how articulate you are, but you’re way too fast for Mommy. You’ve been speaking in full sentences around here (“Iwan eat Daddy lunch, too, Mama. Noah? Wan eat Daddy lunch, too?”), helping cook dinner, helping bake, mopping, gardening, washing windows, letting the dog outside to pee, calling Noah to come inside, crawling up the playground ladder all by yourself (even that curved one!) and sliding down, helping buckle your own car seat, opening and closing the car doors, putting on your own clothes and shoes, sitting on the potty (although rarely does anything come out), wiping yourself, washing your own hands, brushing your own teeth… I could keep going. In fact, I’m just looking around here in the kitchen for a single thing you haven’t tried to do all by yourself.


“I DO!” is your mantra. Everything from dousing seasoning your plate with salt and pepper to opening and closing the door gets a “No, I do!” We have to let you try everything by yourself first, and only when you ask “hup, Mama!” can we step in. It’s very important WHO helps you too. If you want Daddy to get you down from your high chair but Noah tries to help, we will all suffer your wrath.


Ah, your wrath. Our family knows it well. Your tortured scream-cry when you don’t get your way, accompanied by hitting and throwing yourself on the floor has become almost boring. You make the BEST angry faces; we actually think it’s sort of funny now. You’ve been trying to improve your game, so this month you started grabbing fistfuls of Noah’s hair whenever his head is low enough to reach and just yanking the hell out of it. It’s funny because you truly are the gentlest, sweetest child I know. And I can tell there’s no real malice in you when you pull Noah’s hair; you just think it’s an interesting reaction out of all of us as we yell “ow!” and “stop!” and rush over to untangle your fingers from his hair, respectively.


Your big brother is still your favorite person, really. (Well, you are QUITE fond of your playmates Edie and Eli, and ask for them by name on a DAILY basis. And recently you ask for the whole family by name “I wan see Edie aaan Li-Li aaan Wachel aaaan Wuh!”) But your brother is the person you dance with joy to see upon waking up in the morning, the person you ask about constantly when he’s at school, the person you ask about as soon as you wake from your nap. When he’s gone you want to sit in his car seat, play with his toys, put on his clothes, do the things he does. In fact you want to do everything he does ALL the time. He has taught you (much to Daddy’s and Mommy’s displeasure) how to shoot finger guns, how to jump off of high surfaces, how to play all kinds of games, how to get your own water, how to pretend a hanger is a bow and arrow, and a whole bunch of words and sounds. He drives you CAH-RAY-ZEE still, mostly when he has something you want or he tries to show you how to properly work something or “help” you with something that you want to do by yourself. I hear a lot of frustrated screams coming from your direction, and it wears on Mommy and Daddy. But when you’re getting along… oh joy and bliss!


My favorite thing in all the world is seeing you play and communicate with your brother. At dinner you ask him if he wants more “bled” (bread). You ask him “Why, Noah?” when he tells you something you don’t understand, and he patiently explains (“That’s just the way the world works, Vi.”), and you say, “Kay.” “Wait! Tiss, Noah!” you yell from the kitchen as Noah heads out the door for school. He comes back in for a kiss and the two of you embrace. “Good day, Noah!” you tell him. Last week Noah got hurt and cried pretty hard. I held him for a while, and you ran over, chanting “kay, Noah? Kay, Noah? Kay, Noah?” and tried to break the two of us up so you could get your own hug in there. “Kay, Noah?” you asked as you frantically pushed your way between us and put your arms around his waist. You asked so many times he finally stopped crying, sniffed into your hair, and mumbled “I’m okay, Violet.” “Shawy, Noah,” you said as you pulled away.


It was the best. Thing. Ever.


It’s actually harder when Noah is at school than when you’re both at home, because you get so bored without him. You’re so social and you LOVE to be around your friends, and no toys are very entertaining for you so there’s not really anything exciting to do at home. You put your shoes on right after breakfast and tell me that you’re “weady doe, Mama!” I have to figure out something to do quick because by 9:30am you start losing your shit. You love to eat but I think you might be eating out of boredom when we’re home, because if we’re at the library or park you don’t bug me about food. At home, though, you’re always asking me for a “nack!” I admit it, Boo… Mommy hates how often you want to snack. You used to ask me to nurse all the time though, and I’m glad you’re starting to realize when you’re hungry you need to eat and not nurse, so I comply. “Would you like a banana?” I ask, still trying to limit snacks to fruit. “No, nack!” “An apple?” “No, NACK!” “Strawberries? Pears?” “NO! NO! NACK!” I sigh and ask in a tiny voice, “cashews?” “YEAH! TATTEW! I wan ahmin milk too, Mommy.”


Despite all the ways you’re “two half,” you are DEFINITELY still my bebe girl. You would live on my hip if you could. Wherever we are, no matter who else is around (even if NO one else is around), you want me to be holding you. You want to be on my level, doing whatever I’m doing: cooking, folding laundry, sending a text, checking email, talking to other adults. A few times lately I’ve even gotten out the Ergo, just because you refuse to let me put you down. And Boo-Boo, let me tell ya. You are HEAVY. People comment on Mommy’s arms looking strong and all I can say is, with as much as I am holding you, THEY SHOULD.


It’s just like when you were a baby. From the first time I held you on my chest and you were content as can be and the nurses and midwife were amazed that you didn’t cry, to the days I wrapped you up in the Moby, to the nights I slept with you in my arms, to right now, at the dining room table, where you rejected the FIVE CHAIRS in favor of my lap, you just want to be next to me. “I wanna hold yoooou,” you croon, and I tell you “I wanna hold you toooo,” and it’s true, even though I do wish you would give me a break from time to time, just sayin’.


One more story, because I think it sums you up so perfectly right now, and I hope you never lose this. I play a game with your brother and you, where I ask you both “Who loves you?” or “Who loves you the most?” The answer, of course, is “Mommy.” I would also accept a finger point. Noah always used to say “you do,” or he’d pat me on the back, or sometimes he’d say “nobody,” like freakin’ Eeyore. When I ask you, however, you go: “Mommy!” And I’m all, “Yeah! That’s righ–” but you cut me off. “Aaan Daddy. Noah. Mammaw. June. Edie. Wachel. Wuh. Li-Li. Ellen….” and on and on it goes until you run out of names, which takes a surprisingly long time. And I just stand there, watching you think of all the people who love you the most, and when you’re done I tell you, “That’s right, Buddy!” It is right. To know you is to love you.


I love you, Boo. Happy Birthday, and may TWO be the best year of your life so far (that wouldn’t be hard I guess).





It’s so funny, the way we decide to procreate. The desire to have a baby is so basic, so animalistic. That’s what we say, and that’s what we mean! “I want to have a baby.” “Let’s have a baby.” “We’re going to have a baby!” It’s never “Let’s have a child that will eventually be a teenager who we have to keep from getting a girl pregnant!” or “Let’s raise humans to be contributing members of society!” or “Let’s have a toddler who will have multiple, daily meltdowns and cling to my legs when I’m trying to cook healthy food to feed it!”


And it’s CERTAINLY not “Let’s bring an innocent child into the world and expose it to a whole bunch of sickness and disease! We’ll be AMAZING parents, taking our kids to the playground and sending them to playschool where they’ll pick up croupy coughs and stomach bugs, infecting themselves and us with disgusting germs that will make our lives miserable and keep us housebound for at lease a full week out of each month as it filters through our entire family! Wheeee!”

Ugh. You never think, when you’re contemplating having a family with the one you love, that you’ll be up all night with sick kids, cleaning crusty vomit out of your hair, administering cough syrup, applying cool cloths to keep fevers down. I completely get why people who have chronic illness are prone to depression. Sickness doesn’t just make me feel bad; it makes me feel BAD. Like, emotionally bad. I want to be interacting with other adult humans, but sickness forces me to stay away from people. The only thing worse than getting hit with a day-robbing bug is when my kids are sick. I can power through most of the time, but when it hits my kids, we’re just all down, and not just for a day. Usually for more like a week. And even though they feel like crap, they don’t understand why we’re not out playing with friends and running around like monkeys, so we’re trapped at home, everyone feeling miserable, them showing me how miserable they are by emitting a constant, soul-crushing scream-whine-cry combo.


This year has been tough on us. Violet’s been vomiting a lot for the past month and a half, always at night. I’m so tired of doing laundry, I can’t even tell you. The doctor thinks she might have developed lactose intolerance after one of her multiple stomach bugs, so we’ve put her off dairy to see if that helps at all. We’re not super hopeful about that, since I’m still breastfeeding her and breast milk has a shit-ton of lactose in it. (That’s “shit-ton.” It’s a medical measurement. Look it up.)


Currently, Noah’s sick with his second stomach bug in two months. He woke up sick around midnight Friday, and I was up with him ALLLLL night. Like, till 5:30am, when Lance took over while I caught up on some sleep. He was sick all Saturday and I was bitter because, worst Saturday ever! (And also he felt terrible, yada yada yada.) He began crying, hard, about half an hour after he vomited on Saturday afternoon, because I was trying to convince him to lie down for a much-needed sleep. “But we haven’t even had breakfast!” I explained that he couldn’t eat anything yet, because his stomach was still rejecting even water. “But I’m hungry, Mom! Please, let me just have a bite to see if I can eat!” He said this while big crocodile tears ran down his flushed, fevery cheeks.


I held him close and cried too as I realized the meaning of true parental heartbreak: not being able to feed your child when he asks for food. It reminded me how truly fortunate we are.

Also, it was funny in the wee hours of Saturday morning, when Noah was so delirious that he started saying weird things after a puke session. “Why does it scare me!?” he demanded loudly, giving “it” absolutely zero context. In his sleep, he said, “I wonder what the balls are for.” He also told me solemnly “I’m angry at the frow up, Mom. I’m so angry.”

He felt a little bit better on Sunday, though not much, so we opted to stay home again. Thank God it was beautiful weather and we were able to play outside in what is becoming a nice backyard oasis (before the heat and mosquitos start, that is).


Do you believe in curses? Because I totally don’t, but I’m starting to change my mind. If this string of illness (which started at Christmas, you may recall) doesn’t end soon, I’m going to have to get on some anti-depression meds. Cause y’all. There is not enough wine in the world.


Think healing thoughts for us, would you, Reader?






Backyard bliss

Thank God it finally feels like Spring outside, amirite?! The kids and I spent literally our entire day (minus nap time) outdoors in our backyard. Our dear neighbors and friends moved yesterday, and we will miss them so terribly. They gifted us with their backyard play set, even helping Lance haul it over here, and we surprised the kids with it on Sunday after Lance had put it all back together. They’ve been pretty much nonstop playing on it ever since.


In between swinging and sliding and climbing, we worked on building a fire pit. When we were finished, we three decided Daddy should pick up some hotdogs and marshmallows on the way home so we could celebrate our accomplishment, and we didn’t really have to twist his arm.


It was such a lovely day, playing and working together in our backyard, and enjoying the fruits of our labor afterwards. We didn’t return inside until well after dark. I’m looking forward to many more days like these!

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Concerning friendship

You know what I’m like, really good at? Self-analyzing. OVER self-analyzing. Seriously. If self-analysis were a Nobel Peace Prize category, I’d totally win that shit. I’m so freaking awesome at figuring myself out that I even figured out why I’m so good at figuring. I’ll tell you. But first, a sad sack coming-of-age story.

When I was younger I was accused of being “over-emotional” and “overly sensitive” and “dramatic” at LEAST daily. These words were hurled at me like insults across the dinner table, so I grew up believing my propensity to over-emote was some sort of relationally lethal character flaw. I know better now. I am proud of who I am. I’m emotional. Karl Jung thinks it’s because I’m an ENFJ. We’re like 2% of the population, we care deeply for our friends, we’re overly empathic, we can be accidentally manipulative, and we tend to feel lonely in a crowd. So I have all these emotions because of my personality type or maybe because I’m nuts, whichever you think, Reader, but regardless of why they exist so much stronger for me there they are. In a perfect world I would turn those emotions into raw poetry or use them in some killer method-style acting. And I do sometimes, when I’m being super healthy. When I’m not being super healthy I just cry a lot and scare my family. Regardless of how I deal, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my almost 31 years of being a drama queen, it’s that I can’t stamp out the emotions. I can’t try to pretend they don’t exist, that I don’t feel all the feelings, all the feelings, all the feelings. But neither can I let them run my whole life. It’s too intense and too much to just let myself go all the time, like when I was a teenager and sat in my candle-lit bedroom weeping and listening to the Cranberries. That’s why I NEED to be good at self-analyzation. I have to constantly compartmentalize and figure out why I’m feeling what I’m feeling so I don’t snap and Lance doesn’t have to find me downstairs at 3am, drooling and sitting in a puddle of melted ice cream.

So lately, I’ve been over-analyzing. (I know, I know, you’re shocked. Please, join me in staring intently at my navel.) I’ve been doing this show for the past month and a half. Being in a show is an intense and amazing experience, because I get to meet a bunch of beautiful new people and that’s something I really love. It’s like I suddenly have 15 new family members, and we have to be emotionally naked with each other on stage in order to make good theater. We spend a month rehearsing almost every day, then the audience arrives and we nervously sit backstage, getting into costumes and makeup and wondering how many people will fill the house, then we begin. We walk onto the stage and we spend the next hour and a half laughing and whispering and rushing rushing rushing around backstage, crashing into each other as we change costumes and pick up props. And all the while there’s this underlying sense that we’re doing something real, that someone out there is being changed or being touched, that someone won’t leave the same as they came. And yes, I know I sound like a freaking hippie, but that connection is so unique, and priceless, and moving, and it makes me realize that we are all one, we are all in this together, and GOD I know, I know, let’s go roll a joint together and discuss life’s tragedies on a grassy knoll in college, I know.

The downside of it is, it’s all temporary. The show closed last night, and these new friends will float slowly away, melting back into their own lives, and I into mine. I KNOW this happens. So why am I so sad about it, I kept wondering as we sang together too loudly in the dressing rooms backstage? Why do I feel lonely amongst of all these people? This is happy; this is fun… why can I not just enjoy it?

One of the guys in the show said something once that I can’t stop thinking about. He was just telling me a story about another time, another cast, and he said the words “My best friend.” This guy is definitely my age: early to mid 30’s, and without pretense he just said something about his “best friend.” I was so surprised, and when I got home I told Lance about it. “I have friends, dear friends,” I said, “but I can’t imagine ever calling anyone ‘my best friend.'” I guess I felt like we were too old to have a “best” friend. Anyway, if I did have one, it would be Lance and even though I’m glad he’s my best friend or whatever, that is just kind of anti-climactic, isn’t it?

The thing is, there are only a few people in your life, if you’re lucky, that you get to really connect with. You may have 900 “friends” on Facebook, but how many people know you, really KNOW you? How many people know the lines on your face? Know what you’re thinking before you say anything? I can think of a handful of people that I have been totally open with, and that have been totally open with me, in my entire life. And there it is, Reader, there is my problem. I find myself wanting that kind of intimacy with everyone I meet. I want to connect on a deep level with people as soon we are introduced, and I guess that could be ok, if I weren’t so impatient. It takes time to form a deep friendship, and I lack the ability to wait for a good thing. I know it sounds crazy and exhausting, and it is. In my search for authenticity I throw all self-respect to the wind and I open up way too soon, over share, and end up frightening all the normal people. Most people don’t WANT to hug for just a few seconds too long. Most don’t want to share their innermost secrets upon a third encounter with a practical stranger. Most don’t want to hear someone else’s, either. So they retreat.

And then I throw up my hands and think, this person isn’t worth it. Connect with me emotionally RIGHT NOW or I can’t be bothered with you. That’s the other side of the die; the cold and slightly insane side of me. I fight it, I swear I do, but I have a hard time making friends at all because I know if I like someone I will dig in and try to get too much out of people before they are ready. As much as I love meeting new people, I weirdly find myself simultaneously resisting new people. It took me almost two years to join the Mom’s group after Noah was born, because the thought of making new friends, ones with kids, was actually exhausting for me. My roommate in college, and one of my closest friends to this day, told me when she first met me she thought I was a snob. It’s a defense mechanism, I guess. I put off a “don’t get to know me” vibe accidentally even though I desperately want to get to know every single thing about every single person I encounter. Why is it so stressful? Why isn’t it ok to have 50 casual friends and only three really close friends? I honestly don’t know. I’m blaming Jung again.

Or…maybe it’s not just me. Another dear friend said the older you get, the harder to make friends, because there’s so much more of you to share. In college, you meet people with only 18 years behind you. You’re like a fresh person, a nearly blank slate. Then a decade goes by and you’ve grown and changed and your worldview has shifted. Then another, and another, and how on earth do you make friends when you have 50 years of you to catch someone up on? It feels impossible. Sometimes I think, screw this, I can’t have any more friends. I just want to live within 20 miles of everyone I love and never meet anyone new.

It’s weird, I know. Unlike being freakin’ emotional, this really is a character flaw. I don’t know how to fix it yet. I’m just now realizing it about myself. Hopefully the people I’ve met in the last 10 years haven’t noticed anything amiss. Amazingly, there are people in my life that have put up with me for many years. (Mostly introverts. Go figure.) If there’s a gem to be found in the madness of me, it’s that I have no commitment issues. I am loyal; I will cherish my friends and family until the bitter end. I worry that I might seem a bit needy sometimes, but somehow there are a few people who have been ok with that, and who have pushed back and been solid in the ongoing waves of emotion I bring to our relationship, and for that I am truly grateful.

I suck at blog post endings, so here’s a funny and somewhat relevant tale instead. When I auditioned for the aforementioned show I just closed, the director asked me to try singing my audition song (“The Dark I Know Well” from Spring Awakening in case you want to know… I know, it’s awful, but you see what I mean? I picked literally THE most horrifyingly dramatic song in all of musical theater and if you don’t know this song, do yourself a favor and do not look up the lyrics) without showing him how I felt about it. I couldn’t do it. When the music started, I stared at the back wall and tried not to think about what I was singing, but my face started twitching against the strain. My brain was like, nope. MUST EMOTE.

Must emote. Yeah, that pretty much sums me up, people.


Month 51

Dear Noah,

You finally seem to have accepted your true age, and you tell people that you are “four.” It surprises me every time you aren’t 30, or 60-80-11… most of the time you are just four. You are no closer to accepting that your name is Noah, though, but I love that you’re someone different every day, if not every hour. “Can I be Officer Mike?” you ask in the morning. In the evening you don your skirt and tell me you’re a mommy rescue frog, or wolf, or butterfly. If I ask you what you did at school, you almost always tell me you played “family” with your friends. “June was a mommy rescue technician, and I was a daddy rescue technician,” you tell me matter-of-factly. Where the “technician” thing came from, I have no idea. Whatever or whoever you are, you have to add “rescue” to the title. I’m proud that you always want to be rescuing people; you always want to be the savior, the protector, the hero. Not the superhero, like many of your friends are into these days, but the average joe hero… the firefighter, the police officer, the rescue technician.


Despite my pride, the rescuing… well, I think you don’t quite understand how it works. One of my least favorite things you do is something you picked up on the playground at school. You hold your finger and thumb out like a gun and pretend to shoot us. Of course you have no idea what you’re doing. Daddy has made a game of it and pretends you’re catching him in a net whenever you do it, and since you have no context for a gun anyway you think a net really IS shooting out of your finger and you’re catching “bad guys.” EVERYONE is either a good guy or a bad guy. We currently have a library book about the human body and there’s a page on viruses and white blood cells, and you decided the viruses were bad guys and the white blood cells were good guys. A couple of rowdy boys on the playground are bad guys. You’re a good guy, so you have to shoot (your finger gun-net-thing) at them to trap them.


It’s funny though, because even though you WANT to be the hero, you spend half your time (if not more) being a complete asshole. Mommy and Daddy have had many long, exhausting conversations with you about what it means to be a hero, and how heros would never bash their sisters over the head with toy trucks. Or poke their sisters with markers. Or push their sisters over. Or snatch things and yell “MINE!”, or pout or sass or yell “NO! NEVER!” when their parents ask them politely to wash up for dinner. Or kick. Or bite. Or, or, or. Mommy has never felt so tired, Bubbs. When you were two and a half and doing asinine things, it seemed easy to believe it was a phase and you were testing your limits, and you’d quickly grow out of it. When you are four and doing asinine things, I get a thousand times more frustrated with you because I KNOW you know better. I know you understand that you’re causing pain. I have lost my temper with you more than I ever have before, more than I ever believed possible, because of the way you bully Violet.


You parrot my words back to me, unfortunately, with your own mean name-calling twist, and cause me emotional pain the way you cause Violet physical pain. “YOU are a bully!” you yelled at me last week. “Everyone thinks you’re a nice person, but you AREN’T!” you say absently, as you’re clipping my purse strap to your pants, then you immediately follow this stabbing statement up with “Can you help me with this safety harness?” Most of our fights are still over clothes, when we aren’t fighting about how you ought to treat people you love, specifically your baby sister. I can’t keep up with the laundry because there are only two pairs of pants you’ll wear, and they are filthy by the end of the day. You do NOT understand the importance of cleaning your clothes. You yell at me that you don’t care if they’re dirty, and that it’s your “choice” to wear the same stinky jeans all week. (Another thing you learned from me… “It’s MY choice, Mom. I’ll make my own choices.”)


This month you’ve also learned how to lie to us. “What happened to Violet?” I say as I come into the room to find her face and tummy and back covered with marker, and you standing over her holding a marker. “I don’t know,” you say. “Why is she crying? Did you hurt her?” “No,” you say, but then she sells you out. “NAH-NO!” she wails, pointing at her head where you’ve bonked her. “She says you hurt her, Noah. Did you?” “NO!” “Well can you tell me why she is hurt?” “Because I didn’t want her to take my fire truck!” Uh-huh.


“Violence is never the answer,” is my mantra these days, which I can tell really sinks in. When you hit, or push, or punch, I repeat my phrase, and even to me it sounds meaningless. “WHY DID YOU HIT ME!?” I yell at you, and of course I know the real answer is “Because I’m four,” but I’m so tired of this same thing over and over again that I lose my sense of reason sometimes. “I was frustrated with you for turning off the iPad!” you say. And then I’m like “IF YOU KNEW THE REASON WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST USE WORDS TO BEGIN WITH!?” Again, I know the answer is “Because I’m freakin’ four.” So I breathe. And breathe. And then I repeat myself for the hundred millionth time. “Violence is never the answer, Noah. Violence is not the answer.”


Of course the rough patches are only a tiny bit of the story of you, as always, Bubba. You’re still every bit as sensitive as you ever were. The other day you asked if dogs could eat chocolate, and I told you no, because chocolate could hurt or even kill dogs. What a rookie mistake THAT was, and I knew it instantly, because you looked sharply up at me, tears already swimming in your eyes. “But,” you started, speaking slowly to control your emotions, “If Lucy dies we won’t have a dog anymore.” I had to backpedal and explain that Lucy is a big dog, so a few chocolate chips that fall won’t hurt her. GOOD GRIEF! A few weeks ago I heard you crying in earnest from the top of a jungle gym. At first I thought you’d hurt yourself, but when I asked you what was wrong you wailed that a friend didn’t want to play with you. You were crying because your feelings were hurt! Oh, my heart.


You tell me you hate me (by the way, I don’t believe you when you say it absently in a sing-songy voice, just to let you know), but then you block the door when I try to leave for rehearsal, and once I’m on the other side of it I hear you wailing “DON’T LEAVE! MAMA, STAYYY!” You tell me you love me more than I love you. You tell me you love Violet more than you love anybody. You use the book Guess How Much I Love You to measure your love in distances: “I love you all the way to my cousins’ house, past Grandmommy and Granddaddy’s house, right to the ocean.” “I love you past the ocean and all the way around the world to Europe!” I say back to you. “Yeah, me too!” you laugh. You give me hugs and kisses and you excitedly push a stool up to help me in the kitchen and you tell me how much you love cooking with me, and you wrap your legs around Daddy’s waist like a koala and you announce that you want to sit next to DADDY at lunch! And you help Violet down from the table without anyone asking, then she says thank you (Dee-doo!), then you say “You’re welcome, Vi,” in this surly man-voice.

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You and Violet’s dynamic is so stereotypical already. You spend 95% of your time annoying the hell out of her, and she you, and you fight and yell at each other, but if I threaten to separate the two of you it’s the worst thing I could suggest. It doesn’t work anyway, because if I convince you to play in another room she comes to find you. Then begins the other 5% of your relationship, which is intense, extreme, no-one-else-will-ever-come-between, crazy brother-sister love. When you’re not pummeling her, you’re hugging and kissing and fiercely protecting her against anyone you think might hurt her. “Don’t be mean to my sister!” I’ve heard you say to many a rough kid on the playground. “Find Violet!” I holler to you from the ground floor at the scary, multi-tiered indoor playground, when I lose sight of her. “She’s right here, Mom!” you assure me. Of course she is. You never left her side. Last week Daddy and I woke early in the morning to the sound of Violet puking, and when we went to get her she was sitting up in your bed. Barely awake but sick, she hadn’t cried for us or knocked on the door. She had merely crawled in bed with you. When she’s napping and you’re awake, you just whine and whine and whine, begging me to let you wake her up. Every morning, I wake up to the two of you running into our bedroom. Violet crawls up next to me and nurses, and no matter how many times I beg you to go pee, go play, just freaking GO, you won’t do a single thing until Violet is ready to come, too. You just lie down right next to her, spooning her from behind, kissing her hair, repeatedly whispering “Are you done yet, Violet?” “You wanna do art, Violet?” “You wanna play cars with me, Violet?” It’s so special, what you two have. I’m never happier, never prouder, never feel my heart bursting within my chest more than when I see the way you two love one another.


I love you, Love Bug.





p.s. But seriously, stop being an asshole.

Weekly Menu: It’s freakin’ cold outside edition

I have been super challenged for the last two weeks, and will continue to be challenged this month, to feed my family well. I’m in a show at Street Theatre (Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson… come see me be about a dozen different characters in the span of 90 minutes; should be entertaining for both of us!), so I’m making dinner during the kids’ nap time. While I usually prep during that time, I am now having to do EVERYTHING during that time, so that Lance just has to throw it in the oven or toss it together with some vinaigrette, you know what I mean? I also have only this allotted space of an hour and a half to do everything else I need to do, like clean/practice lines/answer emails/stare out windows like a zombie while downing cup after cup of coffee/etc., which is why I haven’t seen you in a while, Reader. I heart you.

The goal this week: STAY WARM. To that end: EAT HEARTILY.

Monday: Slow-cooker lentil carrot kale stew, spelt flour flatbread

Tuesday: Roast chicken with vegetables, no knead bread

Wednesday: Grilled tempeh, spiced sweet potato and roasted broccoli toasts (stole this idea because my friend Joy did them… how delicious do they look??)

Thursday: Stuck-pot rice with lentils and yogurt (I try to do one new recipe a week, and this is mine this week. I’m a bit nervous because it looks complicated. But it looks so delicious I have to try.), kale salad

Friday: Chicken empanadas, guacamole and chips

Money savers/shortcuts: 1) use leftover lentils from the stew (just drain the liquid first) for the stuck-pot rice, 2) shred some of the leftover chicken from the roaster for the empanadas, 3) use 1/4 of a bunch of kale for the lentil stew and the remaining 3/4 for the salad 4) use the no-knead bread for the sweet potato broccoli toasts

Month 22

Dear Violet,

My little artiste! You turned 22 months old this week, and you moved to Italy to study famous paintings and work on your still life. (Italy = the art room, still life = spirals) Any time I haven’t seen you for a while I know where to find you, and sure enough you are working away in your little studio, content as can be. You are an unstoppable force when you have markers and a few sheets of butcher paper. And when you run out of the paper, that’s cool too, because there are just so many white walls and linens around here, not to mention SKIN! While Mommy finds this somewhat annoying AS ALL HELL, I’m also so proud of your skills and your passion! I never had any talent for art, so I find everything you put on paper completely fascinating. (Read that again: everything you put ON PAPER. PAPER.) Daddy and I are also both thrilled with your newfound art love because we’ve discovered that while you’ve been waking at 6am, we don’t see you until 7:30. You’ve been silently slipping out of bed and heading straight for your easel, where you stay for an hour and a half before you bring your creations into our room to show us. And that, for multiple reasons, is pure heaven.

IMG_5435 IMG_5438

It is fitting that some of your first words have been colors: you’ve been able to say “lellow” for a while now, and this month you learned pretty much everything else. “Popple! Bleu! Gee! (green) Wet! (red)” and my personal favorite, “Onch!” “Ook, Mama! Onch! MAMA! ONCH!” I hear from downstairs, and I have to run upstairs to see you and everything else in sight covered in orange marker. I attribute your ability to recognize colors with your favorite book, Blue Hat, Green Hat, which we’ve read to you so many times you can read it to us now. This book is about a turkey who can’t seem to put his clothes on the right body parts, while all his friends are old pros. Every time he turns up with a shoe on his head or a coat on his nose, you read his line “oops” followed by a huge giggle, like you are DEFINITELY in on this joke. “Wet…too! (red shoe) Lellow…too! Gee too! OOpsh!” you say proudly, pointing in turn to each picture.


Mommy was worried for a while that you weren’t going to love books, but you’ve begun to prove me wrong finally. Of course, you only have so much patience for each book at a time, but you now love going to the shelf and picking up book after book and bringing it to me to read (“wee book!”). You want to “wee book” before each nap, before bed, and usually whenever you see a perfectly good lap that’s wide open with no waiting. I have to be sure to point to pictures and use a very animated voice if I want to keep you engaged, but with each passing day you’ll sit still for longer and longer stretches, so we’re getting there!


So weird this parenting thing; you have no kids and you know nothing, then you have a kid and you know that one kid, so when you have another kid you think you know everything. But the truth is you still know nothing, because everyone is different. I figured kids all just loved to be read to and would calmly and quietly sit and read a four-foot high stack of books, because that’s what your brother used to do. But he didn’t much care for art, and he always protested if we were going somewhere. You are the opposite of all these things. If you let me get through three pages of a book before closing it and singing “ALL NONE!” I consider it a successful reading session, but, as I mentioned, you could color for an hour straight and you LOVE going new places. I think you’re just a much more hands-on person. You would rather experience for yourself, while Brother wants to observe. While Noah will ruminate, you will immediately try new things if you see big kids or adults doing something, and most of the time you mimic those things perfectly. It’s eerie. Also quite intimidating as I realize you not only are watching my every move, but you’re going to try shaving your legs or putting on mascara or chopping vegetables with a big knife the second my back is turned.


Even though you love going places, and you’re constantly bringing me your choice of shoes and pointing to “lellow tote!” (other coat) (that distinction is important because you like your fleece jacket with the pockets and not your big purple winter coat) and banging on the front door, you are still my little koala when we actually GET wherever it is we’re going, clinging to me for at least half an hour while you get acclimated to the environment. This is true even if we’re somewhere you know quite well, or even if we’re home and others come to our house. Or if I’m cooking. Or trying to poop. Or using the computer or looking at my phone or doing really anything that requires two hands and no clinging toddler. Of course if Daddy is around you want to cling to him, instead, and this is fine with me. I LOVE your new(ish) Daddy love. When you fall you want Daddy’s kisses. When you’re sleepy you want Daddy. When he comes home you squeal with delight and run to greet him. You ask about him all day long. Always, Daddy will do instead of Mommy, except at night when Mommy wishes Daddy would do instead. But ah well. I guess I should take what I can get while I still can, right?


You are hot or cold in terms of your attitude: when you’re happy and chatty and giggly the whole world is charmed by you. When you’re UNhappy (for instance, when I try to take off your tank top so I can put on your PJ’s, but you do NOT want your tank top removed UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES), you scream and shriek at levels so piercing the dog gets up and leaves the room. Last night you had a full-on toddler tantrum, which gave us all a peek into what is to come, Baby Girl. Throwing yourself on the rug in your bedroom, you kicked your legs as you bawled and bawled. Big tears rolled down your chubby cheeks. You screamed NO! as we each, in turn, tried to comfort you.  Noah (who you still call Nah-no, even though you CAN say Noah) tried to hug you and you screamed at him; Daddy tried to read a book; Mommy tried to hold you and nurse you and wipe away your tears… we were at a loss. I couldn’t help but smile a little though, because of how passionate you already are. Annoying, yes, but you know what you want and you won’t settle for less.


Yet you’re the sweetest in the entire world, too. Everyone from friends to family to strangers to the teachers at the children’s art studio we frequent have commented on how dear you are; how cheerful and smart and playful and sweet (that’s the big one). Of course, none of them have actually SEEN you at your angriest, most hysterical, 2am-Daddy-tries-to-take-you-out-of-our-bed-because-you-have-been-nursing-for-30-minutes-while-twirling-your-hair-in-your-fingers-and-tickling-my-arms-and-face screaming and strangled crying side, but most of the time you truly are such a joy.


MOST of them haven’t seen you at your annoyed-at-Big-Brother side, either, as you reserve that for just family. More and more frequently I hear you scream bloody murder from upstairs and do a big drawn-out fake cry (that Mommy is finally beginning to recognize as fake) because he has refused to give you the car he’s playing with or because his feet are too close to you or because he is reaching for a marker. Often your cries of outrage are legitimate, like when Brother trips you on purpose or decides to tackle you, but most of the time you’re just angry because he dares to exist. And then the pendulum swings the other way and he’s the only person you want to see and you want to be just like him and do everything he is doing. When Mommy sees the two of you together, especially now that your vocabulary has exploded and you can talk to one another, whole conversations even, my heart bursts with pride and love. You can find me at breakfast, gripping Daddy’s leg under the table as you offer him a bite of your eggs or Noah passes you the butter that you’ve asked for.


I’m so excited, Boo Boo, for this new phase where you’re able to communicate with us. I sincerely hope it means the screaming will subside. I love the way you pronounce words and I love the way you sing to yourself in the backseat of the car, and I love the way your mouth moves with mine as I say a word with which you are unfamiliar. I love everything about you, Boo. Even when I’m super annoyed with you, like the other night, when Daddy tried to comfort you back to sleep but you were just so mad and wouldn’t settle down, and finally I took you back and said “You may nurse for ONE more minute, understand? Just ONE.” And I was sooo frustrated with you, until I saw your quivering lower lip in the dark. You reached out for me and said “Kay,” and I felt my heart melt right within my chest. Your Daddy told me the next morning that he thinks we might be in trouble. I think he’s right. But I think I don’t care.


I love you, Sweetheart.