Tuesday, September 20, 2011

And then...

I just sent Luciya off on her first playdate with a little neighbor girl. This little girl is as sweet as can be and the two of them play really well together, but we have always hosted her at our house.

She started visiting about a month ago, and will ride her two-wheeler bike (she's SIX) up to our house and ring the doorbell and ask, "Can Luciya play?"

Today the doorbell rang and I said the usual: "Sure, why don't you two go out back and make some mud pies?"

But today the neighbor girl asked if Luciya could come to her house.

Brave gulp.

And I did, I sent her off, on her tricycle, pedaling madly to keep up with her little friend as she careened down the road. I stood at the end of the driveway and watched every pedal, watched Luciya stop at the corner to look for cars, cross, pause, see me down the street, and wave. "Bye, Mommy!"

Why do I feel like crying right now?

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Horse of an Off-Color

Last year, on our annual Labor Day camping trip, I told a joke. It's a joke I've somehow become famous for over the years, one that requires it be told in an English accent and that revolves around its punchline, which is "horsecock."

When I told it last year to the gathered group, the uproarious laughter that pealed through the camp was enough to wake up the early sleepers, and it went over so well that the next morning I was carted to the neighboring rancher's house, just so I could tell it to him.

This year, I was walking Luciya up to our sleeping quarters through the dark woods one night when I heard the group shouting after us from the main cabin. I turned my flashlight around and shouted back down at them: "What?"

John's voice boomed up: "They want you to do horsecock!"

"Later!" I answered. "I'm taking Luciya to bed." And with that, she and I resumed picking our way through the pine needles and dusty knolls to our quarters. After a few steps I heard "Mommy?"

"Yes, sweetie?"

"Can I do horsecock?"

Sigh. It's late, it's dark, let's not get into it. "Yes, honey."

"I get to do horsecock with you?"

"Mmm hmm."

"Mommy, I can do horsecock with you in the morning?"

"Of course, sweetie."

Quiet walking. Her hand in mine. Her breathing becomes ragged and excited. In a quavering voice she says, "Ine so excited to do horsecock!"


More walking up through the woods. I can practically hear the little wheels turning in her brain. After a few more quiet steps,


"Yes, honey?"

"If we see a horsecock, can we get on it?"

Oy. Vey.

"Yes, hon."

More walking, more silent ponderation. Then,


"Yes, sweetie."

"What's horsecock?"

"Ask your father."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Mirabel is my snuggler. Well, she's everyone's snuggler. She falls asleep on shoulders and wiggles into elbow crooks. But Luciya has never really been like that. From infancy, she's been joyfully shrieking her independence wishes.

Tonight, though, after I finished reading her the customary three books before bed and turned off the light, Luciya rolled toward me and snuggled. She wordlessly planted her cheek on my shoulder and let her long lashed graze my neck while her soft warm breath ticked my collarbone.

They say the Eskimos have, like, 65 words for love, and I want to know which word they would use to describe the utter okayness that filled the space within her lilac walls, that made a periwinkle butterfly with fat, full wings burst from my chest. If I had a chance to name a Love, I'd call this one Fullbeam. Because I was filled to full with the shine that is the sweetest, lovliest, dearest love. And for those five minutes, with my arm tucked safely around her and my palm against her little ribcage, the world was safe and good.

Then, of course, she rolled away from me, and I got to watch the nightlight glow just barely illuminate the curve of her olive cheek. And I brushed my lips across her forehead and whispered "I love you."

My Fullbeam bringer

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


... you make me feel like this.

Friday, July 15, 2011

bella beana: 18 months

Dear Mirabel,

You are 18 months old today.

You continue to delight and daymake and charm. But you've got this new 'tude, and it slays us every day:

It's this under-the-brow, pout-lip, all-knowing heart smasher that you've perfected so well that it has *almost* replaced your sunshine smiles. I'm not quite sure when it started, but by now just about everyone who knows you has had the pleasure of being on its receiving end.

Physically, your biggest accomplishment is the ability to scoot in a circular motion when you're seated on your bum. You've started bending your knees while seated, which is huge -- one step closer to putting those fat little hands down and actually covering some ground. But other than that, you are still unable t sit yourself up from a reclined position, and you're not mobile other than rolling. Little steps have taken on such greater significance; your development is just on hyper slooowwww mode. Which only means we get to delight in every little milestone for weeks.

You finally got your first teeth - four at once! - at 16 months old. One of the typical developments in babies with Ds is a strange tooth eruption pattern, but your first four were split in the middle top and bottom of your gums. Luciya's first emerging teeth were named Pokey and Buddy, but yours seems a bit more aggressive, so they were named Jagger and Friends (one of whom was Keith, to be sure).

You've now got no less than 7 of Jagger's pals pushing their way in, and consequently we've had to stop nursing. July 1st was officially our last day (sigh), because, without going into too much unnecessary detail, you left some painful bloody gouges in a place where painful bloody gouges should be illegal. But we made it nearly 18 months, and now I'm officially free to get wasted every night. Just kidding.

You continue to be a sweet, snuggly, nuzzly beanie baby. You refuse to put on weight very rapidly, and you're still hovering at around 19 pounds. You sleep well through the night, waking around 6:30 a.m. and usually giving me a half hour of babble before our bright morning bottle. You still take organic formula, because milk still doesn't seem to agree with you.

We are starting Month Three of Nexium for your reflux, and while I won't say the spit-up phenomenon has been eliminated, it is dramatically reduced, which means we can very well get through a day with one or two bibs. Your feeding specialist is thrilled with your progress, as you've learned to chew with up-and-down AND circular jaw movements (another milestone on which I never would have thought to congratulate my "typical" child.) You have feeding therapy every other week and physical therapy every week. We are going to begin speech therapy, as well, as soon as we get back from next week's summer road trip vacation to California.

Sweet girl, I am looking forward to the day you become mobile and can force me to re-babyproof the house. Until then, you are a true heartstring-tugger and gentle-soft milky monkey. I adore you so much it sometimes makes me ache.

I love you, Mirabel!!


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

because they are very small

When my fellow faculty and staff at Haleakala Waldorf School threw me a blissful surprise baby shower on Maui four years ago, one of my dear teacher friends gave me a copy of this prayer written by Rudolf Steiner. I spend a few moments with this prayer and my sleeping girls each night. It has been bouncing around in my heart lately, so I am compelled to share it.

spoken by an adult

May light stream into you that can take hold of you.
I follow its rays with the warmth of my love.
I think with my thinking's best thoughts of joy
On the stirrings of your heart.
May they strengthen you,
May they carry you,
May they cleanse you.
I want to gather my thoughts of joy
Before the steps of your life,
That they unite with your will for life,
So that it finds itself with strength,
In the world,
Through itself.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Wish You Happy Days

Ugh. It’s my child.

No parent wants to admit that his or her child is the rabble-rouser, the attention-demander, the sometimes-shouter, the crazy face.

But here goes.

Hi, my name is Emily and my child is intense.

I’m giving in, and admitting to the universe that Luciya Leona, light of my life, who turned four years old this month, is, often enough, a nutjob. She is deliberate and demanding and vivacious and loud. She stands up in the stroller and pushes to the front of the line and can fall unexpectedly into a wailing mess in under a second. She is sensitive and observant and way too quick on the uptake. She is touchy and just a bit too loving.

Wait, too loving? Is there something wrong with that? Yeah. It’s the whole “boundaries” thing.

A couple months ago, Luciya casually mentioned that a little girl in her preschool didn’t want to sit next to her in circle. My mommy hackles immediately went up. Come again? A child doesn’t want to sit next to my daughter? My bright, funny, sweet, engaging, daughter? Well. Let me just call the teacher about this one.

Turns out, the other child isn’t a snooty snob. She just doesn’t like to be hugged all day long. And my Luciya, as it happens, is the squeezer. You know the one. The one who is always trying to pick up the other kids, or lead them – a bit too strongly – down the lane. The one who scoots a little closer to the other child so their knees touch. The bubble-less child.

In a way, I’m happy about that fact that Luciya is comfortable enough in assuming the world loves her to want to be physically close to everyone. The child is certainly not shy, and she really has yet to meet anyone by whom she feels threatened. So that’s cool. But it also means we’ve been having to have the “keep your hands to yourself” talk. And it’s getting better.

Luciya responds excellently, and often immediately, to positive reinforcement (which – Hi, my name is Emily and my kid makes me want to pull my hair out – I need to get better at). She has a shining beacon in this ever-intriguing, ever-expanding world in her gorgeous preschool teacher, Miss Jen.

Miss Jen takes Luciya and eight other 3 and 4 year olds two mornings a week to a colorful room attached to her house that is called Happy Days. And I literally count my lucky twirling stars that my child gets this experience each week. Luciya emerges from the Happy Days gate each day at 11:30 with a spring in her step and pride on her face. Every day, she produces incredibly adorable, outright impressive works of art that my walls are becoming too scarce to display. Miss Jen is an artist, and her heart and time pour into providing these lucky children impeccable beauty in the materials she provides them, the projects they colorfully create, the quality of supplies they use, and the creative freedom they are encouraged to explore. Luciya is learning jubilantly, feeling proud, and letting her imagination fly.

When Luciya is overly … well, Luciya, Miss Jen positively redirects her, and always makes her feel safe. I feel 100% confident that my child is in a blessed and remarkable setting.

And I wish I could be a three-year-old again, too.

I wish I could be welcomed to a lovely and serene setting each morning with a hug and an “I love you,” only to be guided through some beautiful, happy songs and encouraged to touch and glitter and paint and glue and imagine to my heart’s content. I want to envision leprechauns that I’ll trap in my very own creation and learn my letters through physical movements.

I am so grateful for Happy Days because I know that my ambitious, confident, often reckless child is cradled in beautiful, loving security.

What else would any mother want for her child?

I’m Emily, and one thing I’ve done right as a parent is send my delightful first-born to a great preschool.

Thanks, Miss Jen. My little caterpillar has grown so well with you. Thank you so much for loving her, and for preparing her to soar.

She’ll be the butterfly with the glittery rainbow wings.

Monday, April 25, 2011

easy breezy

What did you wish for, Luciya?

Friday, April 22, 2011

bella beana ballerina

Thursday, April 21, 2011

what i have become

I am a friend to inspiring women. I am a wife to a kind, responsible, and adorable husband. I am a daughter to intelligent, loving parents and a sister to a brother who makes me smile. I am a business owner and proud of the opportunities I have every day. I am a reader, a dreamer, a lover of laughter.

But my real existence began four years ago. Now,

I sleep with one ear open.

I cringe at words like "hate."

I delight in knuckle dimples and stinky morning breath.

I am what I was meant to be. A mama.

An Ode to Knuckle Dimples

This minuscule chub
tugging, serene,
accentuated by the essence of Adorable;
dimpled pudgily and softly astonishing
your tiny infant hands

I linger in your dainty caresses
those dimpled knuckles trailing softly across my neck
fingers twirling my hair at the nape.
Your baby hand can disappear in mine still
I rediscover it time and again
and devour it with kisses.

Don't let those fingers stretch away
the wrinkly warm spots
that make me smile.
Don't grow too fast, my baby,
and let me knead you for a while.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

eLLe: 4 years old

Dear Luciya,

You are four years old today.

You are a miracle.

That is all for now.

I love you, Luciya!


Friday, April 15, 2011

bella beana: 15 months

Dear Mirabel,

The most remarkable thing happened this week.

You waved hello.

It’s your new party trick. In the last four days we’ve been showing off this awesome new feat to everyone. Wave to Mirabel! Mirabel, wave hello! Hi, Mirabel!! And it’s just a stiff, delayed upward hand jab. But I can see you processing the movement, and wanting to wave back, and concentrating so hard, and then your pudgy little digits flip up, for just a second, and I’m jubilant.

You are fifteen months old today, and besides your new salute, you’ve been making some physical leaps and bounds as of late. Nothing as remarkable as pulling up, or crawling, or even getting yourself into a seated position, but you seem wiser and stronger, and your pudge is slowly leaving those rosebud cheeks.

You still have a pretty insane reflux problem, and in addition to your weekly physical therapy we’re seeing a pediatric feeding specialist every other week. You had a swallow study at the hospital a couple months ago and when the feeding specialist got the results back she said you were the first case, in her 13 years of practice, of a child with the combination of issues that you have. Issues like swallowing too much air and a sphincter that doesn’t fully open and low muscle tone and gastric reflux, which, when added all up equal the Mirabel Special, which is equivalent to 6 bibs a day.

You are slowly learning to feed yourself, aka bring your hand to your mouth, and the Baby MumMums are the first thing you’ve been able to successfully chomp at solo. The super puffs, the bits of bread, the other easily-dissolved (because you can’t yet chew) items are just too tricky to understand. You’ll get a puff in your hand, get all freaked out and surprised, and flail the hand around like the puff is a magic dragon or something. The MumMums are longer, and very light, and a bit of an accomplishment.

You’ve gotten the clear to begin cows’ milk, but the few times I’ve introduced it to you have not produced pleasant results. Your spit-ups are extra stinky and super chunky, and just gross. You still wake up in the middle of the night around 3:30 a.m., and no matter how long we try to let you work it out and fall back asleep, you get worked up, and keep goingandgoingandgoingandgoing until one of us trudges upstairs to rock or feed you. I will be immensely grateful when this stage has passed. Since fifteen months feels like a really long stage. I’ve been told it is most likely due to your reflux, and I’m supposing it’s time to just buck up and start the prescription meds that your doctor prescribed a while ago, instead of hoping the probiotics we sprinkle in your bottles will suffice. Poor Bella Beana Ballerina.

You are so lovely. Your spirit is so kind and accepting. You are calm, and deep, and pleasant and good. Until we begin your therapies. You are not a fan of either therapy and you’ll flail and throw your head back during feeding work and whimper and pound your little face on the ground during physical therapy. I’ll admit there are times I wish your PT (who we do love) would take it a wee bit easier on you, but I understand that these steps are necessary for your ultimate strength. You still just sit and plop and roll and lay, and I am eagerly anticipating the day you learn to scooch around after me.

You continue to be a world-class snuggler. You are soft and love to be held against a shoulder after your nighttime bottle. You nuzzle in, breathe slowly, and twirl your fingers in my hair. You love nothing more than to be held, or rocked, or nursed, or cuddled or squeezed. You explode with darling laughter when I flutter my fingers over your belly and around your ribs. And you make it easy on all of us to comply with your snuggle wishes - your fat little thighs and wrinkly little toes and marshmallow buns are totally irresistible.

Welcome to your sixteenth month, my dear. I’m predicting we see a tooth or two in the next couple of weeks. I ‘m predicting some belly crawling in the next month. I’m predicting a welcoming wave with every day-making smile you shine out to the world.

I love you, Mirabel!



Monday, February 28, 2011

pace & patience

Before we begin, let's find her. Oh, there she is.

Now then.

My daughter is 13 months old and I can still leave her on the middle of my big bed without fear of her wandering off of it. She is 13 months old and cannot sit up from prone position without assistance. She is "toddler"- age, but still hasn't figured out how to scoot her little knees up to crawl.

So when I got the call from her Infant/Toddler Program case worker last week to make an addendum-signing appointment (Oh, the paperwork!) in order to move Mirabel's every-other-week physical therapy appointments to a weekly basis, I wasn't too surprised. Grateful, actually. But then I saw the copy of Mirabel's Physical Therapy Evaluation, and it said, right there in black and white, that "Mirabel is functioning at the level of a 4-6 month old given the range of her skills both in fine and gross motor at this time."


She's functioning at the level of a baby less than half her age.

And it's just... it's kind of... hitting me, only know, that I feel a little frustrated. A little lost. A little guilty (Is it because of me that she's not progressing at a better pace? Do I need to be doing much more?). I'm starting to realize, and maybe to accept, that despite the perfections that exists in this plump and gorgeous and glowing-smiler adorable ray of delight Mirabel, there is a row ahead. And hoeing it is going to take a long time.

It's going to take forever.

Now that Mirabel is 13 months old, it's not as easy for me to envision and excuse her as a little baby. Now people double-take when I tell them she's 13 months old. Now her little comrades are starting to dash around and tear up the house and use small words and drink out of sippy cups that they wield themselves.

Now that Mirabel is 13 months old, I'm wishing I could put her down and have her be able to explore a bit. To open the Tupperware cupboard. To wander after me through the house. I wish I could put up the baby gate at the top of the stairs again. I wish I could surround her with toys and know she could reach for one and actively stay engaged with it. That her tiny fingers could discover their ability to scoop up the puffed rice and bring it to her lips.

Now that Mirabel is 13 months old it's getting harder not to compare her - to her friends, to other children, to her sister at this age. A universe of difference. Luciya was dancing.

Wait a second, let me find her again. Oh, there she is.

And I am so grateful, and I am so blessed, that this wee serene nugget loves nothing more than to be held. To be squished, and petted, and nuzzled with kisses right up under her supple little neck. That my 13 month old little girl is the most blissed-out round-bellied creature when she is resting on my lap, head on my chest, blowing baby gibberish at me between her contented sighs. Letting me stroke her thin, fuzzy, fly-away hair. Pulling back to shoot me a toothless smile.

And I am so grateful, and so blessed, too, that Mirabel will walk one day. That she'll run. That she won't need to be confined to a wheel chair. That she will speak, and she will drink from a cup, and she'll dance. And she'll learn and she'll make friends and she'll paint a rainbow and she'll fly.

She is the strong one here. She doesn't complain. She has made peace with that plain that exists beyond frustrations and beyond doubt. All she asks is that I ensure some opportunities to let her grow.

And so I will. We will. She will.

"Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius." - Comte de Buffon

the darndest things

"Mama, can Mila eat boogers?"

"Mama, do oatmeal and Cinderella rhyme?"

"Mama, do butterflies poo?"
"Yes, they poo."
"Where do they poo? Do they poo in the toilet?"

"Mama, I don't care for geese."
"Why not?"
"Because I only care for ducks."

"Mama, what do "fell in love" mean?"
"It means when two people see each other, and it made their hearts happy, and they fall in love with each other. Like when Daddy fell in love with Mama."
"Mama... when Mirabel was born, I fell in love with her."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Luciya: "Dada, can I have a mint?"

Dada: "No."

Luciya: "Dada, can I pleease have a mint?"

Dada: "No."

Luciya: "Pleeease, Dada?"

Dada: "Luciya, you can ask me a thousand more times, and the answer will still be no."

{Luciya asks two more times.}

Dada: "Luciya, what did I say?"

Luciya: "You said I could ask a founsin times!"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

sisterhood: a celebration

"Mama," Luciya said the other day as we were driving to Stroller Strides, "Me and Mirabel are going to get married."

"Get married!" I said.

"Yes. Because we love each other
so much."

And while I was thinking of a way to adequately express the total jubilation this brought me, she continued with the wedding plans.

"And if horses want to come, and if cows want to come, and if pigs want to come, they can. But the pigs can't come in."

"Oh? Why not?"

"Because they're
dirty, silly!"

Ah. A clean wedding, then.

"But," she concluded after a moment's thought, "we will have a mud bath for the pigs, so the pigs can play in the mud bath. And you get to play in the mud bath, too, Mama!"

That's about the extent of the wedding plans go as far as I know, but you can all trust that you're invited to this farm animal-friendly affair.

Because it will be joyful.

Because, in addition to marking the first birthday of one very special little girl last week, January 15th marked the first anniversary of an incredible relationship that will never know the perils of divorce.


Luciya and Mirabel began on that day one year ago a journey of togetherness and illumination that will define who they are to themselves and to the world for the rest of their lives.


So we celebrated Mirabel's birthday that day, and we also celebrated the one-year anniversary of a fabulous relationship. Luciya got a new pair of shoes to commemorate.

The love between these two is palpable. When Little Mirabel hears her big sister's voice enter the room she cranes her head to find her, and extends her chubby little wrinkled hands to grasp for her sister's hair, or fingers, or cheek. And feisty, outrageous, spirited Luciya is a heavenly helper with her gentle baby sister, nuzzling up and smiling and showing her the ways of her world.

This is what it's all about, folks.

This is why I'm here.

This is Love. And I send my thanks out every single day that I get to witness it, that these two delightful miracles - these sisters - chose me to be their mama.

It's kind of ridiculous.

So, being the amazing filmmaker that I am, I made a video.

To my sweet, lovely daughters: May I be the first to wish you a Happy Anniversary.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

sweet one

Dear Mirabel Ruby,

This morning a low winter mist hung around much of the morning, shushing the bustle of the sunrise and softening the crackly brown outlines of the leafless trees. It is your first birthday, and I was grateful for the stillness outside, because my heart is having a bit of a time accepting the fact that it has been 12 months since our lives changed forever. But there they are, the naked trees and heavy gray clouds I gazed upon for two weeks from your space in the NICU. Outside is the breath-puffing chill, and the sidewalks look perpetually damp. It is January in Boise. It has been a year.

Has it been a year? Can it be? It seems so much more surreal since you are still my eternal baby, still equivalent to a six-month-old in that you sit and smile and roll and are fed pureed baby food, but you don't crawl or pull up or walk or feed yourself or have teeth. You gaze at me with those surprisingly cornflower blue, almond-shaped eyes and you're fine with everything. You're fine with the rolls upon delicious rolls along your thighs and arms, you're great with the bouncy seat and the physical therapy. You're content. You don't complain. Far from complaining, you radiate true goodness. You are a little goblin of goodness.

You smell of Weleda calendula baby lotion. It's the smell of my babies, and I'm so glad I stockpiled several bottles of it from the clearance bins at Fred Meyer. You smell soft, and warm, and natural and pure. The other night you uncharacteristically started screaming from your crib a couple hours after I had put you down. That uncanny mother's instinct kicked in and, although there was no telltale way to know, I said "Her cheeks hurt." I gently smoothed some of the Weleda lotion on your rosy-dry cheeks, and you were breathing softly into my neck moments later.

You still wake up once in the middle of the night, between 3 and 4 a.m., and I pad up to your room and feel the soft weight of your sweetness and the warm cotton of your footy jammies as we nurse in the glider, both of us mostly asleep. Some of my very favorite moments with you are just after you awake in the morning around 6:30 a.m., dawn still a tease out the big picture windows, and I clutch you to me and bring you back into our bed, where we snuggle, nurse, and doze for close to an hour. You often break away to babble - "buh-buh-buh {inhale} BAH-buh-buh-buh-buh" - and then snorkle right back into me for seconds and thirds and fourths. Luciya wakes up around 7:15 and usually comes into the room to join us, and the four of us enjoy happy family snuggles for a while. It is the sweetest way to start the day. I beam when I see my two morning-eyed beauties cuddling up together.

While everything about you is ingrained in my being right now, I know this too shall pass and I may forget, so here is what you are right now, physically: You still have a smooth nursing callus on your top lip. Your lips are shaped exactly like Luciya's. You hands are butter-soft, and have the yummy rubber-band roll at the wrist. I need to trim your fingernails often, because you are a lip- and nose- and chin- and waddle-grabber, and your father and I have each recently born bloody proof of your scratches on our noses. Your cheeks have become rosy from the dry cold. Your nose is constantly crusty from some sniffles that won't go away. Your thin hair is light brown and rapidly growing into a fine mullet. Piggy tails are possible and a near-daily style. You show no signs of sprouting teeth yet. This worries your great grandmother to no end. Your belly is round and soft. You pull your toes into your mouth for a snack. You eyelashes are long. Your eyes are deep, swirling, changing from blue to dark green, like a stormy sea. You have an enormous fontanel that gives us telltale warnings if you're nearing dehydration, like you were last week after your first bout with pukey, diarrhea-filled stomach flu.

You weren't quite your self this evening when we had family over for a simple birthday dinner; there was residual yuckyness hanging around and you were fussier than normal. But we toasted you and sang - twice - and you were passed around in your little brown dress and polka dot tights and you patiently observed your sister tearing open your presents. You had your first taste of whipped cream and delighted in it. We celebrated you.

Tonight, as I was gliding with you before slumber, I reached down to stroke your head and check your fontanel. And you pulled back and smiled at me, a simple, hearty, happy smile. A smile to smile, a smile because I stroked your head and it just felt nice. And so I stroked your head again and again, drifting my fingers through your fine hair, laying my palm upon your wide forehead. And that happily contented smile kept sliding across your face. And I suddenly wanted to devour you. I nuzzled your cheeks and planted kisses all over your sweet head and inhaled and inhaled and inhaled you until my senses were filled.

And I celebrate you today and every day for the past twelve months:

Happy birthday, Mirabel. I look forward to celebrating you for many many years, in many many ways.

Thank you for choosing us.

I love you, Mirabel!