Friday, November 13, 2009

A Poopy Day

Dear Charlotte,

Tonight, you handed Daddy your poop. I realize I should probably back up and explain the entire story, so here goes:

To start with, I was having a pretty terrible day. I woke up with a sore throat that felt like I'd been swallowing large, sharp rocks. Then I realized it was Friday, but the glee was short-lived because I realized I would be going into work both Saturday and Sunday; meaning there was really no weekend escape from work after all.

Then I got home, and I discovered that not only was your doggie being a pain in your daddy's behind, you also had some pain in your behind, in the form of a nasty, festering diaper rash/yeast infection rash. Oh yes, your poor, blistery red tushy was miserable, and so were you.

So after some serious research and some advice from your beloved Mamaw, I sent you and Daddy to the store to pick up some anti-fungal cream, aka Lotrimin or Monistat. Except when you got back, poor Daddy had no anti-fungal anything, and thanks to a well-meaning pharmacist, was thoroughly confused as to what he should do to help you. We ended up fighting, and there was crying, and then I went to Kroger and picked out some cream for your injured butt.

When I got back, Daddy and I made up (poor Daddy; he's really under a ton of stress trying to be a superhero, and I feel bad that he doesn't think he is one), and then we proceeded to let you run around the house in your tunic top and no diaper. Cuz injured tushies need to breathe. When you're older, you'll understand.

So I'm in the kitchen, feeling sorry for myself because I don't feel good, and feeling sorry because you're injured, and Daddy's feelings were hurt. And I thought to myself, "You know, this has been a really poopy day." And that's when I turned to see your Daddy holding something in his hand, a horrified look on his face. And I said, "What's that?" And he said, turning slightly green, "Your daughter handed it to me. It's poop."

That's right. It's as if you heard me thinking, and in your own, cute little way, thought, "Poop? I have poop. Here you go."

And that's when I realized, standing right there in the kitchen with the poop, that there's nothing quite as bad as being handed poop. And if that's the worst thing you're dealing with, then maybe, just maybe, everything isn't that poopy after all.

Thanks for putting that in perspective for me, Chuck. I love you.



Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Looking for Help

om tāre tuttāre ture svāhā (Praise to Tara)

Dear Chuck,

Last night Daddy looked at me and said, "You haven't blogged for Charlotte in awhile." The excuses flew off my tongue: "I've been too busy. I have too many other things to do. I've run out of inspiration, and I'm afraid of writing things like, 'Dear Charlotte, today you took a wagon ride and played with your hair.' I don't want her to read stupid things like that."

The last thought stuck with me, and it's still nagging at me. It's true; for the last few months, I have been feeling like I have nothing to offer you, no pearls of wisdom or witty insights that you would possibly want to read as an adult. As a result, my letters to you have been few and far between, full of forced one-sided conversations that don't do my thoughts justice.

Ah, my thoughts. My thoughts are like raindrops. In the quiet, they splash down in random patterns, slowly at first, and then they increase in number and speed until they pour down and my head is so full I can no longer distinguish one individual thought from another.

When I log into this blog to write you a letter, I find myself staring at the blank screen, picturing you as an adult. When I was a girl, I could only see my mother in one dimension; as a mother. I suppose that's how all children see their parents. In my view, there was no past for my mother; there was no future, no existence outside my own. She was, very simply, my mother. I understand more now. I see my mother as a complete person, and I find I am intrigued by the woman who wasn't my mother, but who was a person, struggling with the same paths and decisions that I struggle with. When I log into this blog, I imagine you as an adult, my age now, reading these letters. I wonder who you will be, what life you will be leading when you are 25. I wonder where I will be, and what I will be doing, and what will have happened to all of us. Most of all, I wonder how you will see me. Will you understand who I am as a person? Will the things I have done in my life intrigue you, or will you be ashamed of me? These questions circle in my head when I see the blank page in front of me, and the chicken in me emerges and closes the browser window, convinced I will never be able to show you the truth and wisdom you need to help you along your life's journey. I should have known the universe would show me the way.

As a joke a couple weeks ago, Dan and Warren brought me a treasure newly dug up from our latest OS&D shipment at work. It was a Buddhist magazine called Shambhala Sun. I put it in my purse, secretly delighted, and just today got around to reading it. The front of the magazine portrayed a beautiful golden statue, a woman ornately sculpted. The first thing that caught my eye when I turned the page was the editor's entry. The title at the top said simply, "Looking for Help".

The statue in the picture at the top of this blog is the female Buddha Tara. Tara is a symbol of wisdom, and Buddhists of all schools turn to her for guidance. The editor posits to us that, "...we have the wisdom, compassion, and intelligence to handle life. And not just handle it, but live joyously, lovingly, sacredly, wisely.....[Tara's] wisdom, compassion, and skill are always present in us, no matter how confused, angry....fearful, or stupid we may be at any moment."

The wisdom of Tara is right, Chuck. Right now, I am simply your mother. I hope to remain that for many years. But someday, in your eyes, I will also be more, and I want you to have the chance to experience that. It's true, I'm flawed, wonderfully so, but hopefully that makes me someone you can relate to better. And hopefully I can find a way to pass some of the wisdom I hope to acquire in this life to you. But it will never happen if I don't write.

So I write. And I hope the wisdom finds me. And maybe through me, you.

I love you forever, sweet baby.


Monday, June 29, 2009

You Come By It Naturally

Dearest Chuck,

Years from now, when you sit back and reflect on your life, I hope you know enough about your daddy and me to be able to see the parts of you that came from us.

On that note, there's something you should know about yourself. Something we've been able to see in you since the day you first tried to roll over.

You're kinda stubborn. Stubborn that's really more tenacity and an absolute refusal to fail at something. A lesson now, sweet Charlotte. When those traits are exhibited during a solo attempt at something, society calls it "an iron will". When they're exhibited during an event involving two or more people, it's called, "competitiveness".

Girlfriend, whatever it's called, you've got it in spades. Which brings me to the point of my post.

When you read this blog for the first time, I want you to mark this one, and bring it up to your father as soon as you see him next. Tonight, Charlotte, I destroyed your daddy in a game of Wii Virtua Tennis. That's right; your mother is the all-time video game tennis champion. Daddy wasn't very happy about losing. In fact, he's probably not going to be thrilled that I'm recording my victory for the next generation.

But hey, at least you come by it honestly.

I love you. Fighting spirit and all.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Way, WAY back there

Dear Charlotte,

I got behind again. It's been 3 very long months since I posted. A whole quarter of your life has gone by that I haven't written you, and I'm sorry for it. You are now a whole year old, growing more independent and charismatic by the week, the day, the hour. There is so much that has changed in your life; encompassing all of that in a single post would be impossible, even for your Mama.

That's right, you say "Mama" now. It started out as "Na-na", but then you learned to put your lips together and make the "M" sound. It was really kind of the best day ever for me, because you've been delighting everyone with your perfect pronouncement of "Dada" for a few months now, and my tiny Mommy ego was feeling crushed as only a mommy ego can. Don't get me wrong - as a normal person I delight in the fact that you and your daddy are so close and inseperable. I didn't have that with my dad, so to see how amazing your daddy is with you is the single best thing I could ask for and get.

Notice I said, "normal person."

Mommies are not normal people. We're a rather exotic breed, with amazing ability to conjure any number of fantastic scenarios that spin normal situations into dilemmas the best team of fiction writers couldn't come up with. For example, letting you nap in a t-shirt instantly injects the fear that you will somehow wrap that shirt around your head and suffocate. Same goes for the idea that you will choke on the no-longer-existing tufts of fake fur on your crib-buddy Joe the Giraffe's little knobby horns. And I will unfortunately admit that my fantastic conjuring of scary scenarios includes one where you don't need me or want me. When those thoughts happen, I'm less likely to be thrilled that you get mad at me and reach for your beloved Daddy. Or Mamaw. Or really whoever happens to be in your reach that you find interesting. I'm happy to report that Mommy's insecurities about being a good enough mommy have receded towards the "normal" category, but don't let that admission fool you; I'll never be fully rational when it comes to you. Someday, you might understand.

You don't walk yet. That's okay, because I'm content to keep you adorable and tiny and baby-like forever. The days I can see you growing up by the minute are the days I understand why Michelle Duggar has 18 children (and counting). I can't get enough of you as a baby. I know that as you grow up, you'll most likely turn into the moody, dramatic, independence-seeking, parents-are-the-new-enemy teenager that I was, with a nice dash of your Daddy's charm and stubbornness thrown in for extra oomph. I can't wait to see what kind of adult you'll make, but I don't want to lose the honest, exuberant, scrambling mass of almost-toddler that you are. Life is an adventure for you, and you lack the ability to hold anything back. When you're sad, you cry. When you're happy, your whole body radiates that emotion, and life is simple. You're content with some Cheerios, a little Elmo, and your beloved Tuggie near you. Music makes you dance. Twirling stars above your crib make you smile. Bathtime makes you fairly explode with laughter. Bliss is the window rolled down on a bright, warm Saturday and Miri Ben-Ari on the mp3 player as we cruise down the highway, a noisy toy clutched in your hands.

Can I tell you a secret? You make all of those things the same way for me. You are my bliss. You and Daddy and Tuggie and Livvie have the incredible ability to put my life into perspective, and show me what's really important. Not work; that has its place, but it's okay to let go when the day's over. Not worrying about the stupid little details that don't matter, like if the dishes are done or what your neighbors think about your car or if you picked out the right present for someone. Life, Charlotte. That's what is important. It's a symphony. One you only get to hear once. Don't be focused on getting to the next part. Enjoy where you are now.

I love you, sweet girl.


Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fleeting Time

Dear Charlotte,

Today you are a year old.

Happy Birthday, my sweet baby.

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Sweet Life (and Bad Knees)

Rub a dub dub

Dear Chuck,

I have been noticeably absent in writing to you, and I apologize. You should know that you have been eating up every possible second of life in the almost-month I haven't written. Bathtime continues to be one of your absolute favorite sensory experiences, and jumping on the bed with Daddy is an extremely close second.

You are also Baby Mobile Extraordinare, and nothing in the house is safe from your wandering-ness. There is nothing you won't attempt to do. You, my pixie-haired fireball of baby chatter, are fearlessly unstoppable. In fact, just the other night you decided to climb through one of our dining room chairs. Perhaps you aspire to be a future gymnast. Or perhaps you were looking for Narnia. Whatever reason your little brain cooked up, you boldly approached your task with your usual "I will do this!" attitude. The optimism faded, however, when you realized you were stuck.
You were not hurt in your attempt to hurdle the chair. It would be more accurate to say that you were rather angry. Mommy apologizes profusely for not rescuing you immediately, but you'll understand if you have children of your own that sometimes, just sometimes, your progeny will do something that simply requires you to document it. It should also be noted that this setback did not deter you from attempting exactly the same feat several times during the following days. In fact, the chairs now seem to attract you like a magnet, and I'm sure you're at home right now giving Daddy gray hair.

Speaking of Daddy, you have begun addressing him as "Da-deh". He is over the moon about this (as am I), so I have decided to ignore evidence that you are simply working out a new sound without knowing its proper meaning. It is the cutest thing, to hear you look at him and say, "Da-deh" with your little baby cheeks puffing out and tiny rivers of drool escaping through your 6 teeth (yes, you have 6!). The wonders of your developing brain never cease to amaze us, Charlotte.

We're still waiting on our new living room furniture. I hope you inherit someone else's patience, Chuck, because you're not getting any from either of your parents. Though I think waiting 4-8 weeks for something you have spent a rather large amount of money on is pushing the limits of anyone's patience anyway.

The other amazing thing you got to do at the end of February was go to a wedding! Uncle Jesse and your new Aunt Kate got married! Daddy, Uncle Jim, and Aunt Amy were all in the wedding, and we certainly couldn't be left out, so we put on our finest duds, and away to Dayton we went! You were the belle of the ball (next to the bride, of course!), and everyone just loved you to bits. You were far to busy to pose for too many pictures, but I managed a couple:

Mommy also had a funny fall, and ended up injuring her previously-not-injured knee. Not to worry - it's just a little boo-boo, and just a minor surgery, so aside from Mommy being gimpy for a few days and having to do some special exercises, nothing will be different. It won't be like when Mommy had her gall bladder taken out and she was gone for a whole week.

The best part of the year is coming up, Charlotte. SPRING! And Spring leads to Summer, which I think you will also find quite enjoyable. Summer is swimming and playing outside, and it's the smell of sunscreen and barbeque and staying out late to catch fireflies after the sun goes down. It means napping with the windows open, and running around in your diapee just because you can. Spring is different. Spring is flowers and rain showers and rainbows and long walks and most importantly, Spring is Garden Planning time. Well, in our house anyway. This year, we are doing zucchini (for yummy bread), and a pot with tomatoes, and we will have sunflowers, and a Morning Glory vine, and pretty Moss Rose, and pink tea roses, and hanging Nasturtiums, and sunny Marigolds. I cannot wait. Even the inside plants got new pots, and Mommy has a brand new baby Philodendren plant for your room. We might even find a new houseplant to bring home, who knows? And if Daddy lets Mommy get the baker's rack she's been looking at, who knows what could happen?

It's the sweet life, Charlotte. It doesn't get better than this.

I love you.



Monday, February 23, 2009

Serious Thoughts

Dear Charlotte,

I don't have any fancy words for you tonight. I don't have cute pictures, or funny stories, and I can't tell you that anything spectacular has happened to us in the last two weeks.

What I can tell you is that this afternoon, I watched you fall asleep in your crib with your thumb in your mouth, snuggled between snow-white fleece and the blanket I made you. I listened to your little baby snores, and I watched your eyelashes flutter like tiny butterfly wings against your soft pink cheeks. I kissed your downy head, and then I went across the hall to Daddy's and my room. Your daddy and his poor injured body were taking a nap. And I watched him sleep. I listened to his much louder snores, and I watched his eyelashes flutter against his soft cheeks. I kissed his nose, and then I lay down next to him and fell asleep too.

When I woke up, the light in the room was different, and your daddy had taken most of my covers, which I suppose is fair since I took his pillow. Your doggie and kittie were curled up against each other and wedged between us at the foot of the bed, and your baby monitor on the bed next to me was silent. That's what struck me the most when I first awoke; the quiet.

Our house might not always be the quietest. We may not always get along; we might forget about what's really important in life and get sidetracked by the things we want and the things we think we need. We may not always be so certain that everything we do is the right thing, or that we're heading in the direction we want to go.

What I can tell you, Charlotte, is that when I woke up from our nap today, there was peace. And I was never more certain at any moment in my life that right here with you and Daddy is exactly where I am supposed to be. It's easy to let that get lost amidst all of the chaos of everyday life, but it's the one thing that should never, ever be forgotten. You and Daddy are the best part of my life, and I am so lucky to be his wife and your mommy.

I love you, sweet girl.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Naked Rainbows

Dear Charlotte,

Two things
happened yesterday that have to do with the sky:

A rainbow, and a full moon.



Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Dear Charlotte,

For the past few days, I have been trying to write a very special letter to you. You will understand more when you see it, but suffice to say it is probably going to be one of my very favorite posts on this blog.

The reason it hasn't appeared yet is because we tried to save money. We switched from cable TV to satellite TV because it would cost less, and costing less is a good thing when you're trying to get out of debt and save money to buy space of your own with windows in the kitchen for growing things and for silly sunbathing terrorist cats and a bathtub big enough for the tall people to not feel crunched up in and a big backyard for the crazy dog who hates rain but loves snow and always hogs the bed. So we switched, and I called the cable company to cancel our TV, except that they canceled our internet too, and now it will be awhile before they can send someone out to re-connect us. Which is okay, because now we're temporarily saving even more money, and we have plenty of stuff at home to keep us busy while the computer is on vacation anyway.

Except I can't blog without the internet. So I tried to hijack my work computer to do a little blogging, and every time I try to load more than one picture, the whole thing crashes and I have to start over.

I hate starting over. Unless it's in a video game or a brand new clean apartment with bare walls that I can paint.

So I'm going to patiently bide my time until our own personal internet comes back, and I will give you a tiny hint and post one fabulous picture that will hopefully tell you a little more about the blog I hope to post in the near future:

I think you're gonna like it.



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Daddy. Camera. Naptime. Bad.

The First Sign of Trouble

Dear Charlotte,

, when you're not listening, I call you a little demon. I don't mean it to make you feel bad. In fact, the idea of you running around with little horns on your adorable head makes Mommy giggle, and that may just be your next Halloween costume.

But I digress. When I call you a little demon, it is usually after people tell me that you're the sweetest perfect angel. They don't believe me when I say you've got a nice little wild streak of attitude in you, and that the sweetness is just an act you use to recruit people to the Charlotte Ophelia Fan Club. They don't see it. You reserve that special little streak especially for Daddy and me, and while we're grateful that you love us enough to share that specialness, we're tired of people giving us funny looks cuz they think we're making up stories about you recruiting them to the Dark Side.

Stories no longer, Chuck. Someday I may use this photo for blackmail, but for now it's just evidence.

I love you, my sweet perfect little demon.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Princess Frogtush's Bathtime (Vogue Edition)

Hippo Tastes Like Chicken

Dear Charlotte,

I love that you love bathtime. You come by that honestly, you know. Daddy might compare bathtime to being one carrot short of human soup, but you and I know better. Bathtime is a warm, joyous, splash-filled wonder! It's a festival of floating hippos and princess ducks! It's a post-Nakey Game extravaganza!

And it's the perfect excuse to lounge around in your hooded bathrobe.

I love you, Chuck. And your little frog tush too.



Sunday, January 18, 2009

Charlotte's Weekend at Grammie's


Dear Charlotte,

You just got home from a weekend at your Grammie's.

Apparently, you had a marvelous time.

Mommy and Daddy missed you dearly, and we are so happy you're home.

But we're thankful for Grammie. And the giant Elmo.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

New Eyes

My Little Buddha Baby

Dear Charlotte,

I thought I should tell you a little bit more about why I started writing this blog. This is the beginning of 2009; trust me when I say that blogging is like bread. That is, everybody knows what it is; it's a very basic thing, but some varieties have a more interesting flavor and texture, and some will downright knock your socks off and leave you craving more, like any good fix should. (The yang of that is that some kinds will make you believe there is a hell and you are in it.)

So yeah. Blogs = bread. Still with me?

When I met Daddy in 2005, I truly didn't expect my life to be where it is as I write this. You have to understand, Mommy's life was really different then. I had just moved back from my very first venture out of my home state. I was working two jobs with crazy hours, and living with your Aunt Kindra and Uncle Jason. All of my focus was laser-beamed on regrouping, both financially and personally, and getting the hell back out of Dodge as soon as I could. I wanted Pittsburgh. I needed Pittsburgh, and all of my new liberal swimming friends, and my new freedom.

Then I met Daddy. And for awhile, the Stephanie train still wasn't derailed. It was all work, all the time, and thoughts about what my next move would be. I had already screwed up pretty good with my last plan, and I wasn't anxious to repeat those feelings of disappointment. (If you haven't noticed yet, Mommy is very big into to-do lists and plans and chess move-like stuff. Daddy finds it hysterical that I made a to-do list for Mario Kart.)

The, one night in October, Daddy and I decided to go out. The details of that encounter, and the wackiness that ensued is another post, but suffice to say things worked out, and right now the three of us (plus Tug and Terrorist Cat) are in the middle of our Happy Ever After.

My story, Charlotte, is about you. Before you were born, I was working on trying to figure out the W's; who I was, where I was going, what I wanted, why I exist. All of those crazy philosophical questions that will actually drive you crazy if you take them too seriously. And I took them entirely too seriously.

You changed all of that.

You gave me a new way to see the world. I realized that life truly is just a one-time deal, and while we might not have control over how long we get to take this ride, we can control what we get from it. I don't want to waste a second of this life, Charlotte. I'm learning to sort out what's important in life from what isn't, and adjust my day accordingly. For instance, I can accept that me working full time is a necessary thing. I'm okay with getting up every day and trekking to work and bringing home dock dust and a weekly paycheck. Thanks to you, I also realize that there are days, when it's cold outside, and the house is dark and quiet and the alarm goes off at 5:30 but Daddy puts his arms around me and snuggles close to me....those occasional mornings, Chuck, it's okay to hit the snooze button. The every-now-and-then "sorry I'm late boss" speech and the extra ribbing your coworker gives you about getting a watch is absolutely worth the extra half hour (or hour, whatever) of cozy snuggle time. Just like sometimes it's worth having a messy house when it means you get to giggle and play with your daughter, or you get to watch her try with all her might to crawl across the floor and pick up her favorite toy.

The point, Charlotte, is that you gave me new eyes. I live every day for every single bit of joy I can get out of it. I try not to waste time on the things that don't matter, and I look forward to having a reason to wake up for the rest of my life.

Thank you for that amazing, precious gift.

I love you.



Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Good Ship Wackiness

Chilling out, as always

Dear Charlotte,

Mommy, as usual, is behind. After our hodge-podgey, Hannukah-modeled Buddhist Christmas-mash holiday, I took the four days I had off for New Years and did absolutely nothing. As in slept. Woke up. Had food. Played. Slept more. Shopped a little. Basically, I modeled my days after yours.

I rather like your life. Except that it means nothing gets done. Including blogging.

So to catch you up, here is how Christmas and the New Year celebrations went at our house:



More Food

Play? Or Food? Or BOTH??

Definitely play


Mommy hopes you enjoyed the holiday wackiness as much as she did. And she is very, incredibly, truly unhappy at the prospect of leaving the wackiness and resuming boring work tomorrow. Because that means less time with you. And nobody, especially Mommy, wants that.

I love you Chuck.