Posts Tagged ‘Birthdays’

In Her Hand

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Seems just yesterday she was like this. . .

Seems just yesterday she was like this. . .

And here she is today. Brownie bridging ceremony at Stone Mountain Park Grist Mill. Almost 8 years old, 2nd grade, October 2013.

And here she is today. Brownie bridging ceremony at Stone Mountain Park Grist Mill. Almost 8 years old, 2nd grade, October 2013.

She’s eight. I’m no longer one of those moms with babies. Or toddlers. I’ll never have a preschooler or a kindergartner again. It’s sad, but so so sweet, too. She can run her own bath, and swim laps, and brush her own hair, and boy does she have ideas about how she wants her hair to look. She has beautiful, soft hair. It still smells good after a bath, but smells more little girl than baby. I know now why grandmas want to smell babies heads – it’s like crack. You get a whiff and you want it the rest of your life.

She’s in 2nd grade now, and reading stuff like Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing, and likes clothes and puppies and stuffed animals and jewelry. She likes reading and writing and homework, and god help me, crafts. She is sensitive and sweet and nothing like me. She wants to please us and her friends and her teachers. She wishes she had a sister. She still writes notes to Fairies, and believes in Santa and the Tooth Fairy. She still loves my hugs, and wants to be with me whenever she can. She sits next to me comfortably, and without pulling away. She is a Brownie. A swimmer. She has the most amazing smile, even with that little snaggle tooth. Her laugh is my favorite song. And she laughs a lot – she likes to make up jokes, and she likes it when we make jokes. She wants to be a vet. And a zookeeper. She likes math. SHE LIKES MATH. She makes up stories. She writes stories. She loves loves loves her Grandmas. She wraps Grandpas around her fingers with just a smile, or a hug. She adores Leah and Syd, Mia and Liliana, Rachel, and Gia, Nathan, Tristan, and Michael. She loves her brother, but god do they fight sometimes.

This week, at the lake, I watched her, and she didn’t know i was watching. She sat under a tree, and wrapped her arms around her knees, and gazed out over the lake. And I knew she was thinking. Just like I used to think under Connie’s dogwood tree. Or on the front rocker of our porch in New York. Like i still think when I lie on the boards of the dock at night and ponder the moon and the planets and the constellations. Sometimes she lies with me. Sometimes she holds my hand. She holds me in her hand.

MUSHY. Let’s talk about the party.

So, yeah, we had an old-school carport cookie-decoratin’ party. October birthdays might be the best.

Tiller loves beanie boos.

Tiller loves beanie boos.

Watching tills open stuff.

Watching tills open stuff.

Miss Chloe.

Miss Chloe.

I think? Tiller collects beanie boos and twins.

Lilian, I think? Tiller collects beanie boos and twins.

Yeah. Twins. Maybe leah. Gah. I have trouble when they are not together.

Yeah. Twins. Maybe Syd.. Gah. I have trouble when they are not together.

Boys focused on cornhole and that jumpie thing.

Boys focused on cornhole and that jumpie thing.

So, yeah, not sure what the deal was with the gems on foreheads. Hopefully not insulting to my Indian friends - They were part of the scavenger hunt treasure, and the kids started putting them on their foreheads. I like to think it is their multicultural upbringing that made them do this.

So, yeah, not sure what the deal was with the gems on foreheads. Hopefully not insulting to my Indian friends and family – They were part of the scavenger hunt treasure, and the kids started putting them on their foreheads. I like to think it is their multicultural upbringing that made them do this.

A rare moment of still sitting with this whirling dervish of a nephew.

A rare moment of still sitting with this whirling dervish of a nephew.

My sweet girl. Best smile in the world.

My sweet girl. Best smile in the world.

He was pretty bored.

He was pretty bored.

The basket and bell, because why would you make a girls' bike that doesn't have these? Where would you put acorns, rocks, bows, and beanie boos?

The basket and bell, because why would you make a girls’ bike that doesn’t have these? Where would you put acorns, rocks, bows, and beanie boos?

Just what all 8 year olds need. She loved this gift, and it actually looks really, really cool.

Just what all 8 year olds need. A messenger bag She loved this gift, and it actually looks really, really cool.


Chloe and Tiller, about to blow candles out.

Chloe and Tiller, about to blow candles out.

My baby is 8. This cannot be. Also, i just ate the rest of that cake with coffee for 2nd breakfast. A pitfall of working from home.

My baby is 8. This cannot be. Also, i just ate the rest of that cake with coffee for 2nd breakfast. A pitfall of working from home.

Chloe always has the best expressions.

Chloe always has the best expressions.

My sweet, tissue-paper pasty skinned, freckled nephew. I want to eat him up.

My sweet, tissue-paper pasty skinned, freckled nephew. I want to eat him up.

Leah, i think.

Leah, i think.

Yeah, that's definitely me.

Yeah, that’s definitely me. With tills and . . . uh syd. I’m going with Syd.

My sister will eat some cookies.

My sister will eat some cookies.

Good sister, bad sister. Guess which one is which?

Good sister, bad sister. Guess which one is which?

Pretty sure that's syd, and leah. Syd on left. It's like a puzzle.

Pretty sure that’s syd, and leah. Syd on left. It’s like a puzzle.

These three are just three peas in a pod.

These kids are just a bunch of peas in a pod.

Jimmies my ass. There were sprinkles. Lots of sprinkles.

Jimmies my ass. There were sprinkles. Lots of sprinkles.

Rollie doesn't go for hugs anymore, not even from his Aunt, not unless his fever is at least 102. He's ten now, you know. Way too old for your hugs.

Rollie doesn’t go for hugs anymore, not even from his Aunt, not unless his fever is at least 102. He’s ten now, you know. Way too old for your hugs.

We decorated cookies. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

We decorated cookies. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

Tiller wins.

Tiller wins.



Friday, August 27th, 2010

My baby is seven today. SEVEN. When you were six, I could still think, I have babies. The baby is gone now. I look at you now, and remember what you were like as a baby, a toddler, a preschooler.


But he is seven now, and seven is no longer baby.

This has been a good year. You started Kindergarten this time last year:
All Smiles

and now you are in First grade. What a difference a year makes!

You are still in the Magnet class and it is fun to see you with your friends. You started riding the bus last year and you still like the bus. Daddy drops you off in the mornings, though, because it means that we get a little more time together before you go off to school and he heads to work. I get you from the bus stop in the afternoons, and you are usually a little grumpy with me. I guess you are tired and hot (it is still August and buses don’t have AC). You did great in Kindergarten, really progressing with your reading now. You still read with Tiller and Daddy before bed, but you also read chapter books after you go to bed, and we are worrying you don’t get enough sleep because of it. You are currently reading, “The Guardians of Ga’Hoole” with Daddy and Tiller, and on your own, you are reading “The Magician’s Nephew.” Just last night, you argued with me about whether you can read “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” first, and then go back and read book one (Magician’s Nephew), or whether you are supposed to read One first. I say you can do it either way. Not you. You like order and in an orderly world, you read One first, then move on to Two. Hopefully, some day you can forgive me for making you read Two first.

You and Tiller got razors for Christmas and you ride them around in the garage for an hour at a time. You don’t get sick and you don’t fall and get hurt. (Knock on wood.) Speaking of, we haven’t had any ER visits or really any sickness in a year. You and Tiller both missed a week of school last year because you had a puke once then have a fever for a week virus. But they weren’t bad and it just made you snuggly.

You don’t have too much time for snuggling this year, but occasionally, you will slow down and cuddle on the couch in your pjs with me or daddy. I realize now that they are dwindling that those moments will be fewer and further between. I try to cherish those moments.

You lost some teeth this year! The first two you lost at school and they just sent them home in a plastic baggie with your name written on them in sharpie. I felt a little gypped. But then your tooth got loose when Cousin Luci and Uncle Wade were visiting and you wanted me to pull it, and we made Daddy and Wade squirm while we stood in the kitchen, wiggling the tooth back and forth, wiping the blood with a paper towel and finally making it crack! and come out. You are not scared of the tooth fairy like Aunt Lisa was when we were little.

This was the year you ate all the chocolate out of the Advent Calendar. I know one day it will be funny, but right now it is still too soon. And the year you cut a chunk right out of the front of your hair. And the year that you got a mohawk. Three times.

I am amazed at all of the things you did this year. You played t-ball last fall and this past spring. You are a natural – always raring to go play, and really pretty good. Watching you out on the field, doing celebratory dances when you make a play, is like pure joy for me. I try to be modest, but i just about burst with pride at how you excel. You are about to start soccer this fall, again, and I hope you like it as much.

You learned how to ride a bike this year, and how to swim. You could swim before, but suddenly, you were going underwater and swimming the length of the pool and you even had your first year on Swim Team this summer. (Go Stingrays!) The competitive Mom in me had to wrestle with not pushing you, and letting you do things your way, even though I knew there were pointers I could give you that would help you improve. You finally listened a little bit and really improved your time, and then you spent the rest of the summer asking me to give you “some more pointers.” It was pretty cute, and I liked that you asked me, because usually, you want to do everything yourself, and don’t want anyone to tell you how to do it.

You also learned to go off the diving board! I can’t even tell you how terrified i was when you and Tiller and Daddy came home saying you both knew how to go off the diving board. And sure enough, we would go to the pool and you and your friends would jump off the diving board, over and over for hours on end. And then we would go home and you would say you didn’t feel good, but i knew it was just that you were completely waterlogged.

You have reached the point where you can sit and watch a whole baseball game (in person or on tv) and I am very much looking forward to watching some football with you this fall. You have learned the rules and can have a great conversation about it, and I never realized how satisfying it could be to have those discussions with you.

Just about a month ago, i let you drive the JetSki (with me right behind you) at the Lake. I had the kill switch, but I pulled over in a huge cove, far away from the shore or docks, and I let you sit in front of me, and taught you a little about how to drive it. Then I said, do you want to try? And you were excited. I was prepared for you to hit the gas too hard even though I warned you not to, so I wouldn’t get thrown off, but I don’t think you were prepared for it, and it scared you. You didn’t want to try and drive anymore, and I think it was a good lesson. Riding with you kids is one of my favorite things to do. We drive around to some usual spots, usually in the morning, before there are many folks out on the lake and you are learning your way around. You know the usual spots: Bulldog, Aerie, The Warm Water, Rooty Creek, Crooked Creek, and Goat Island. I ask where you want to go and you almost always want to go to Goat Island. It’s kind of “our place.” At the end of our rides, I always head back towards the house, and I make you tell me how to get there. When we get back near the cove, I ask if you want to do some circles, and you always say yes, and then I ride us in circles until we’re a little dizzy and you are just on the very verge of being scared. Each time, we go a little harder and faster. And this summer, we started taking you and Tiller out on the tube (nice and slow). The first time, we went out, and you were the guinea pig (except you kept calling it being the Hamster) and Foley rode as spotter. After that, I started teaching you and Tiller to be spotters for each other, and that has worked well. Maybe next year we’ll try skis.

You talk back a bit now, and you fight with us, and you probably are a little too addicted to video games. You definitely have your own ideas about how you want to do things, and you and I get into some arguments, but I am so very proud of the smart, funny, laughing, passionate boy you are. I love your eagerness, and your gap-toothed smile, and the way you drag your feet when you walk up the hill from the bus stop. I know you can’t stay my baby forever, that I have to work hard to make you a wonderful young man, to teach you respect and pride and the value of an education and courtesy, but I understand now why Mom and Dad still say I’ll always be their first baby.

You will always be my first baby. The baby with the skin that tans easily and the big brown eyes that just make me melt and the thick, wavy brown hair that always reminds me so much of my own, and of my Dad’s, and of the inexplicable ways that we are all three so similar, just a little line of stitches marching down the hem of time. Pop, Daddy, Me, You.

You. My baby. Always.

You in the last year.

And you this morning, on your seventh birthday.

Rollie at Breakfast on his 7th Birthday

Green Recessionista? Cheap Meanie?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I’m really not sure whether this makes me eco-conscious, or a big old, no fun stick-in-the-mud. I do know that it looks frighteningly like something Pop would have done, although I did not take it as far as his sister Mary, who would just strike out the writing on cards and then reuse them.


Perhaps would have looked cuter had I saved weeks of comics and wrapped it all in those? Curious to see what Rollie’s reaction will be when his gift is not clad in Spidey or, um, anything with color on it.

So, am i Green or Cheap? (or both?)

Nephew Love

Monday, June 28th, 2010

My in-laws are comin’! Running around like a chicken with my head cut off, but needed to post a little something this morning about my favorite nephew. He turned two and we attended his birthday party on Saturday.

Little Birdman is Two!

Little Birdman is Two!

How can he be two? Seems like just yesterday I held him for the first time. I can’t believe that I love something so much, almost as much as my own two kiddos. But I look at him and I see my baby sister, and it is one of the sweetest feelings I have ever had.

Icing on the Thomas the Tank Engine cake? I got to sit in a chair with this little guy sleeping on my chest.

Icing on the Thomas the Tank Engine cake? I got to sit in a chair with this little guy sleeping on my chest.

Afterwards, watched USA in the World Cup (sad game) with friends and no chilluns (always fun). I ran into a friend from high school. I went swimming in my clothes. I drank Red Bull and Vodka (a decidedly for-the-childless concoction). Best Husband ever (and I am not kidding here – how, again, did I find one that can put up with me and my shenanigans?) picked me up and took me home at the perfect time. Spent Sunday with him and the family at the pool – the perfect balm for my slightly aching head.

In-laws come in today to bring me my new (used) freezer (frozen veggies!), and then we go to the beach on Friday. Feels like a great week. Hope everyone else’s is the same.


Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

It appears that, while I have a sense of humor, I do not react well to being laughed at outright. To say that I am fuming would be an understatement. Currently trying to douse the flames in wine.

I am coming to terms with one of those life moments where I need to let go of the arrogance and the cockiness. Even though i know my intelligence was insulted. Humility was all that was required. It would be inappropriate to try to prove my ability. If given the chance, I can prove it. If not given the chance, I learn a lesson in humility.

I’m not good at humility.

Life lessons, right? Life lessons. The world took me down a notch, and I am almost on the eve of my birthday. I am almost 38, not almost 28, and thank god, not almost 18. This is not the first time in my 30s that the world said, “wait a second. You can’t be that arrogant.” Yet another reason i have loved my 30s. I have always loved a comeuppance.

I can let it go.

Right after I pour myself just one more glass of wine.

Missed the game, but hit the Galaxy

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

On Rollie’s actual birthday, we were supposed to take him to the Braves game, but it was pouring and we decided maybe we should bag it and just take him to dinner. Anywhere he chose. He chose Galaxy Diner. And he wanted a banana split, dang it.

Braves clobbered the Padres and we missed it. But we had fun anyway.

Six Years of You

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

9:00 a.m. Six years ago today, i was pretty much being ripped apart by a bowling ball. A bowling ball that was not numbed by any amount of drugs for a couple hours. Rollie, you were that bowling ball. And you were worth every second of the worst pain of my entire life.

By the time you came out, my pain was being managed and I was tired and so very happy to see you. I still grieve for those hours that you were not in my arms, but they had to make sure you were okay, and you being okay was most important. Six years going by makes it clear that all of those details and all of the guilt I poured over myself at the time was for nothing. You turned out perfectly and completely and totally YOU. And you are wonderful.

Alvin, Simon, Theodore, Rollie

I really feel like this was the year that you became a true boy, no longer a baby, or a toddler, or a preschooler. You started Kindergarten this year! You rode the bus for the first time! I was so terrified, sending my baby boy off with some person i have never met before. And that night, when i kissed you goodnight, you whispered “I want to ride the bus forever. I never want you to pick me up at school again!” You loved the bus. You still do.

Happy Rollie

You have learned so many wonderful things this year. You already learned to read way back when you were four, but now you are reading longer and longer books. Sometimes the words that you read amaze me. You sound them out just perfectly, and even use them in the correct context sometimes. I will never forget the night that I walked into your room and you were reading the Tales of Beedle the Bard. At five! I wasn’t sure whether to worry that it was too graphic for you, or swell with pride that you could read a real short story book, with few pictures! You are like a sponge with the reading and you retain so much. It amazes me. At school, you are ahead of the game – They are teaching letters, letter sounds, colors, shapes, and the like, and you can already read. I worry that you won’t be challenged enough, but when I see that you are still sensitive, and still on the same emotional level with the other kids in your class, I know we made the right decision. Plus, so far, you are not struggling with your homework very much, and that is a relief to me.


Yes, you have homework. We never had homework when I was in kindergarten, but a lot seems to have changed for parents and kids since then. I hope that your Daddy and I are making good decisions for you, but sometimes it is scary for us. We want so badly to give you all of the tools you need to be a happy and well-adjusted kid. You also started taking French this year, and you have an hour of it a day. i am hoping that you and I can have some secret French conversations around the dinner table. You are already coming home every day with new French vocabulary words. There are still things to learn, though: You still can’t tie your shoes and you get very frustrated when we try to teach you. And your dad and I have been pretty bad about helping you learn to ride a bike. We need to get on that.

Boy at Waverly

You have really turned into an active, energetic little boy. You learned to swim a little last year, but this year, I can sit out of the water and watch you, and you do just great. You put your head down in the water and you can jump off the side and swim back by yourself and swim the entire length of the pool! You dive for rockets, and you were so fun to watch at the pool this year, because you played with the other kids so well. This was also the first year that I could put a lifejacket on you and let you swim in the lake while I sat on the dock. You and Tiller swam for hours in the lake last time I was there. It was a joy to watch you swimming and playing the same exact games that Aunt Lisa and I used to play right there, too. You took your first ride with me on the Jetski this year – I think you were a little freaked out by it, but I am sure you will grow out of that soon and be scaring me with your fearlessness. I know I was terrified riding around on that thing with such precious cargo, but I want you to learn to have fun, and be cautious, but not fearful. I try to teach you that by example, but sometimes Mamas get scared, too.
Rowdy Rollie Rodeo
You played soccer last Fall and this spring and loved it. You are pretty good and we call you “The Cheetah” because you are so fast. Your team was called “The Dream Team Tigers” which we have really gotten a lot of laughs about. This year, you are playing soccer and t-ball (Go, RiverCats!) and I am really enjoying you learn to catch and throw and learn the rules of the game. Just last night, you made your first base hit and you played pitcher and got an out at first. I was beaming. The best part of all, though, is sitting in the bleachers in that moment when light and dark are just about even, then the lights on the field flutter on, and you and your team-mates are running around the bases, playing pickle and laughing (giggling, really) and I just see the joy on your face, and the fact that you are happy, and comfortable with who you are.
Boy Loves Tractor
I know that won’t last forever – that kids are mean, and you have to watch movies about bullying at school for a reason. I know that there will cliques and hurt feelings, mean things said, and unrequited crushes. I just hope that you will have a foundation given to you by your Dad and me that leaves you with a sense that you are a wonderful person, and that you have self-worth. I hope that you always have the strength to know who you are, to be your own person, and to do the right thing, even under difficult circumstances.

Rollie with Flower

10:00 a.m. I was still at Northside waiting for you to join us. The room was unlit and I was hurting, but it was getting better. Daddy and Aunt Lisa were there. The rest is a blur of visiting grandparents and MASH re-runs, until you came out and changed my world forever, at about 5:30, I think.
At about 5:30 today, we should be getting ready to head down to Turner Field. Your birthday party is Saturday morning at the pool, but we have kind of started a tradition of taking you to a Braves game on your birthday. Last year, Daddy and I surprised you with it, but this year, all four of us are going. Even Tiller. We haven’t told you yet, but I can’t wait to see your face when we do. It will be Tiller’s first baseball game, and I’m sure she will love it, but you will be the star tonight. I can’t wait to see you eating peanuts and hot dogs, and yeah, we might even get you a coke. It is your birthday, after all.

I love you, little buddy. More than you will ever know, at least until you maybe have a child of your own. And then you will ache with it, and swell with it, and wrestle with it. I hope that I am there for you when the time comes, because I am so proud of you and I know how proud I will be then.

Your Mama

Are you an aunt, uncle or Grandma or Papaw, who can’t get enough of baby pictures of Rollie? Here’s a set of some of my favorites.

Three Years

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

Dear Tiller,

Yesterday, you turned three years old. Yes, I was too busy to write this on your birthday, but don’t think for a minute that throughout the day i wasn’t constantly reminded that it was three years to the day that you had come into our lives.

It is hard to look back on a year and remember all of the things that have changed in your life and ours in just one year. A lot has happened to us this year – We have lost your Meemaw, and Pop is in Assisted Living. That is very different. I am so glad that they have been a part of your life. I never knew a one of my great-grandparents. We moved this year, from the house in East Atlanta, where you came home and danced and sang your way into our lives. And boy do you dance and sing. You make up songs about any and everything, and sometimes I am amazed at the lyrics you come up with. You have discovered princesses. The damn Disney crap. (And yes, your mama cusses, too.) Princess dresses, tiaras, little plastic heels, and jewelry. You also love babies – You carry two or three around at a time, and we all pretend to take care of them, and your face just lights up when you realize we are playing along. This is the year that the dog and cats have realized that they like you – they are no longer scared of you, and the cats will sit next to you when you watch tv. Let’s see – Shows you like are still Dora, and Franklin, and Max and Ruby. You like Rollie’s Speed Racer cartoons on DVD. We have started making you watch Sesame Street in the mornings, just because we wanted you to learn to recognize letters when you see them. We also let you play the ABCs on I am amazed that you picked up using the touchpad on the laptop so quickly; I think you are better at it than your grandma.

You sleep so well, and go right to sleep at night. Well, sometimes you sing yourself to sleep, but you do not fight us when we put you down. You and Daddy and Rollie get up in our bed and read at night, and this year, Daddy started reading The Tale of Despereaux to you, and you wiggle and don’t really get any of it, but i think it is pretty neato the way y’all pile up every night. I still sing the medley to you some nights. Some nights you want me to make your bear talk to you, so I do that instead. But i still love singing Bitsy, Sunshine, and Twinkle to you. I will be sad one day when I realize it is the last time I sang it to you.

We moved out of the old house in February, and we didn’t have the new house yet, so we lived at the lake for a month. It was very strange living there, but you and Rollie and I explored middle Georgia, and went on lots of “adventures” where you learned about nature, and got dirty, and threw rocks at trees, and found bugs. I was glad, because I worry that you and Rollie have nature deprivation sometimes.

You have a cute room in our new house, green and pink. You are in a big girl bed, with one of the twin beds that came from the lake when Dad bought the iron queen bed for up there. Rollie has the other one in his room, but someday I’d like for you to have them both for sleepovers. Dad says that Grandma and Pop got those twins out of an old house in Macon, but I don’t think they are that old.

You started a new preschool this year at a local church. You love it. You go three days/week, and are one of the oldest in your class, which means that you are a lot bigger than some of them. Last year, you called the little ones in your class “my babies,” but you don’t do that this year. I miss that.

One big thing that happened this year is that you learned to go potty. You wear big girl undies and once you got started, you really took off with it. It makes my life so much easier, but sometimes I miss the closeness that comes with having to change someone’s diaper. I know that sounds crazy, but it is true. You and Rollie just don’t need me that way anymore. It is a milestone, albeit a strange one.

Another huge thing that happened this year is that you learned to swim! You are my little fish girl, and can hold your breath underwater. I was so proud of you.

We had a birthday party for you on Sunday. it was a costume party, and you were a princess. You changed your mind about five times about what you wanted to be. A rat, a dog, a princess, dora. We had black and orange cupcakes. You ate two. Guests at the party were your Johnson grandma and papaw, Lyle and Denise, Lisa, mark, and Dash. Grandma and Papaw palmer were at a family reunion. Jason and Elle came – she was a princess, too. As was Trisha. Her brother Nolan was Boba Fett. Leah and Sydney came, too. I think Sydney was Luke Skywalker, and Leah was Dorothy Gale. Charla and Julianne were fairies. Scarlett was Batgirl. Her mama was a kitty cat! It was much, much fun. We decorated the backyard and had the party out there, because the weather was so nice. We ordered a pizza later, and stayed up way too late for a school night, but it was fun. Last night was your birthday, and so we made your meal request: Mac and cheese, oranges, and green grapes. They had to be green. We had chocolate cake for dessert. You blew out the candle like a flash.

One day, if you are a mother, you will understand that women are like salmon and their bodies remember and their minds go back yearly to the days their offspring entered the world. Ten or twenty times day before yesterday, I thought, “oh, this is about the time I called Todd, because I just felt a little off,” or “funny that I am in the car at six p.m. tonight. I remember leaving Rollie with Lisa and going out to the cul-de-sac and getting in the red tiger wagon to go to the hospital.” It was a Friday, rush hour in Atlanta (doesn’t that just figure) and your father put on a CD he had made with mellow songs on it. The song was “The Scarlet Tide” from the Cold Mountain soundtrack. Yes, I have probably written that to you before, but it still makes me laugh, and i promised your father I would never let him live it down; He put a song on about blood and death and carnage as he drove me to the hospital in labor. I remember thinking before I went to bed that it was about the time they gave me the benedryl and told me to get some sleep, that it would be four or five hours til you were ready to come out. It was only almost two, and i was so tired when they woke me up. I remember thinking, “just a few more minutes of sleep.” I had done this before. I knew i would get no sleep for a long time. We had to shake your daddy to wake him up. It was five til midnight when they readied everything for you, and Ruth said if we hurried, we could have a baby on the 7th, and if we took our time, on the 8th. You came on the eighth, but just barely.

Your birth was a blessing and it was the way I imagined birth should be, and I am so grateful that you gave that to me in your coming into the world. Rollie’s birth I sometimes go over in my head like a car wreck, like i do the accident that your Daddy and I had one Memorial Day, when I hit my head and can’t remember a huge chunk of time. I go back to that over and over, trying to find those lost moments, and never can. I go over Rollie’s birth and try to remember when it started going wrong, and how it felt, worrying it like a little hole in a blanket. But not yours, yours is just a succession of happy thoughts: Laughing with your father before you came out, the funny deer-in-headlights look on his face when I brought up changing your name at the last minute, holding you right when you came out and no one worriedly waiting to whisk you away from me, and the first time you latched on, right away, like we were made for each other.

Knowing that you were my Matilda, my daughter, just like I am Virginia’s Annie, born in that very same hospital, and mama was Vivian’s Baby, born in Chattanooga, and that one day my grandma was her mother Ida’s baby, come into the world in Lee County, NC. I remember thinking that we are a chain, unbroken, but each a charm, dangling and flashing in the sunlight, and in the darkness, too.

Tiller from two to three years, on my Flickr.

Belated Birthday Post

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

I often feel like reflecting on another year when my birthday comes around, but for some reason, I didn’t feel like it yesterday. Once again, I feel like my birthday is just a number, and I am stuck at 27 or so, and I know that the number of years mean nothing. I love my 30’s, though – I feel like I know more about the things I want out of life, and I know who the important people are, and I know to let the other things and people slide, because life is way too short to waste time on the meaningless, and on regrets. My birthday, though, has always been tinged with regret, because I hurt people around me on my birthday one year, and every year, I wake up and regret that I caused pain, and the first thing I think of is how this birthday will inevitably be better than that birthday. And every year, it never fails, no matter how lackluster it is, it is better than the terrible birthday. Life has a funny way of giving you things to remember as horrible, and in that way gives you the gift of context; You can always compare an event to the event by which all other events are measured and be reminded that things are generally good, and you should appreciate it for what it is. See people? I can be a glass half full person. i can!

This year was no different. Todd took me out on Friday for my “real” birthday celebration, which meant that we were able to eat dinner together in a decent restaurant without dealing with whiners and spills, and cutting things up, and making sure things weren’t too hot, and all the little things that a meal with children require of parents. We stayed out late, and we had hangovers on Saturday, and they were worth it, because we had fun together. Then yesterday, Todd got up with the kids, which meant i was able to sleep about 10 minutes later than usual. It sucks being an adult on your birthday – you still have to battle yucky weather, and get kids to school, and pick kids up. You still have to smear peanut butter on bread and pour milks. Nobody makes you a handmade crown. But you do get to go out that night and your family has you blow out candles (Yes, Rollie, they do have that many candles at the grocery store,) and you have cupcakes (chocolate with hot pink icing!). You get phone calls from people who don’t call you regularly, and nice emails, and cards, and people remind you that they love you. And you feel loved. And you win at trivia, and that is always a great birthday gift.

Thanks to all the wonderful people who made me feel very special yesterday, in a ton of different ways. You know who you are, and I love you all.

Tiller Turns Two

Monday, October 8th, 2007

Dear Tiller,

Today you turned two. We celebrated your party on Sunday. It was a Hello Kitty themed party. Aunt Lisa and Papaw Palmer couldn’t make it, but your Grandma Palmer was there, and also your Johnson Grandparents. Uncle Mark showed up, even though Aunt Lisa didn’t make it – I think he is either in love with you, or cupcakes. Maybe both. Other attendees were Mama and Dada, Rollie, Ned, Vanessa, and Scarlett. We had chocolate cupcakes, and some with colored icing, but everyone wanted chocolate. We ate pizza for lunch, and you received way too many gifts. You received a stroller, baby bed, and infant carrier, a couple of baby dolls, two cel phones (just what a little girl needs), a stuffed dog on a leash, a vacuum cleaner that really vacuums, a tea party set, a doll case, and a ton of clothes. You are a very lucky girl to have so many friends and so many people who love you.

I remember when Rollie was two, and you were about to be born. It seems like just yesterday, and now he is four and you are two, and I am really, really a mother. You have learned so many amazing things in the last year. You learned to walk a little after you turned one. Now you are running and hopping. Of course, you don’t actually leave the ground yet, but you say “I am hopping!” and do a lot of bending at the knees. You like to do whatever Diego and Dora are doing – All the actions: Climbing, swimming, rowing, hopping, swinging, climbing. Thanks to Dora and Diego, you intersperse your English with Spanish words. Sometimes I have to act out actions to figure out what you are saying to me.

Your talking is just amazing – what a vocabulary! You string so many words together in run on sentences and your dada and I just look at each other, wondering what it is you are saying, because we just don’t understand all of it. That doesn’t matter to you, though. You just keep on talking, and are so expressive when you do it, nodding your head convincingly, or holding your hands palm up when asking a question of us. You repeat everything that we say, and think that Rollie’s word is God. If Rollie says or does it, you want to say or do the same thing.

You are starting to show a bit of stubbornness. When we say “time to change your diaper,” or “Let’s put on pjs” your first reaction is to take off running. We spend a lot of time chasing you down. You love the water and will pour water over your own head when in the bath and then laugh and laugh. You are the laughingest goofball of a child I have ever known. Your sense of humor is corny and quick. You love to sing in goofy voices and then laugh at yourself. Did I mention the dancing? You love music and singing and love to dance. Your dances are a sight to behold, too – You do one where you move your arms around. I couldn’t explain it if I tried, but will have to show you the video someday. Your favorite songs are “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,“ “The Wheels on the Bus,” “You Are My Sunshine,” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

You love animals and babies. You crack us up, because when you talk about the other kids in your Mommies’ Morning Out class, you call them “babies,” but you think you are a big girl, even though you are all the same age. You started the MMO this fall, and I was worried you would miss me, but you love the class, and the other kids (Kai, Claire, and Abby) and your teachers, Miss Betsy, and Miss Janet. You cry on the days when Rollie has class, but you don’t.

You are kind of a bruiser. Sometimes I am in another room, and I hear Rollie screaming bloody murder and I walk in, and you have him in a headlock, or you are lying on top of him and won’t get off. I am hoping you will turn out to be a gentle soul, but it is nice to know that you stand up for yourself, too.

You love swimming. I am amazed at how much you love the water. You laugh and laugh in pools, and you love the kiddie pool at the lake. When we take you in the lake, you lie back as if you could just float on your back, all by yourself.

When we go to the park, you like to swing, swing, swing. You are not scared to climb or slide, but swinging is where it’s at for you. I have pushed you on a swing for almost an hour at a time before. You cry when I make you get out of the swing.

In the mornings, you scream and cry, “Mama” or “Daddy, come get me.” “Mama, Help!” You sound pitiful and sick, but as soon as we walk in, you start chirping away in your excited, sweet morning voice, asking “Where’s Dada?” or “Where’s Rollie?” You start talking in a waterfall of words and if other people in the house are still sleeping, I try to shush you, and you just won’t quiet down. It is endearingly annoying. When you wake up from your nap, you are the same way, except crankier, just like your Mama and Aunt Lisa, and Grandma Palmer. I carry you down the stairs, you crying the whole way, and when we get to the bottom, I ask if you want a snack, and you turn the tears off immediately, a smile breaks across your face, and you say, “Sack” while nodding your head at me.

Let’s see. What else:

You sleep well at night, usually going to bed between 7:30 and 8, but you aren’t a great napper. Most of your naps are 35 to 45 minutes long. I am thankful when you give me a whole hour.
You never let me fix your hair, which I guess is part of the curse. I never liked having mine fixed either.
You love eating. I have been lucky that both kids have healthy appetites. I try to feed you healthy stuff, and you do a pretty good job with it. You do love gold fish. You call them, “Olefish.” So cute.
You are starting to love to read, and we read to you every night, but you also will grab a book and sit down with it, turning the pages and pretending to read.

Since your birthday party, you have been walking around saying, “I’m a baby!” and then “I’m a big girl!” You may be growing up to be a big girl, a young lady, but you will always be my little baby girl, even when you are fifty. I am so lucky to have you for a daughter. I knew that being a parent was special, but I never knew how amazing it would be to have a boy and a girl. Mom always said that there was something so very wonderful about having a daughter, and now I understand what she meant. You are sweet and mercurial, tough and sensitive, beautiful and ornery, girly and tomboyish, smart and silly, all wrapped up in the cutest, roly-poliest package I have ever seen. You are a little like your father, and a lot like me, and better than both of us put together. I have learned so very much from you and Rollie. Having a little girl, though, is a slightly more daunting task for me. I know that I am your foremost role model, the woman from whom you will learn so very much in your life. You bring out so many things in me that I didn’t know I had inside. You make me a better person. You make me want to be someone you can look up to, someone you can learn valuable life lessons from, and someone you can respect. I hope that I do as wonderful a job as my Mom did. I hope that I set an example for you that will make you as proud of me as I am of you.

Happy Birthday, Baby Tiller.

With love,

Thanks to Uncle Mark for the cute Tiller with Stroller vid.