Gratitude: For Lovey on Father’s Day

1. your patience

2. your tenacity

3. your ability to remain non-judgmental and get the feel of people, places & experiences for what they are, not what someone tells you they are, or what one might pre-judge without really knowing

4. your thoughtful soul

5. your creativity

6.  your wackiness & deep appreciation for humor

7.  your renaissance spirit

8. your sentimentality

9. your genes

10. the pure trueness in you

11. your way with yeast: pie-crust, home-brew, donuts, beignets, fried pickles and bread alike,

12. your willingness to try anything and keep an open mind

13. your ability to read a manual and then do what it says

14. your kindness to all things living- be it a hop or geranium leaf, a kitty-cat, a firefly or our children

15. your love & earnest interest of all things that came before you be it a newspaper clipping, a wool shirt, a longboard, a deep fryer or 3, the Fairlane, your ancestors, your specs, a flour sifter or the Magic Chef

16. your thrill &  dive-into-I’m-researching-it-right-now attitude with all things that come into advance in our lives, the world and our future

17. your ability to predict where we are going in our lives with your appetite

18. your mechanical mind

11. your family

12. our family

13. your interest and perspective on the community, culture & world around us

14. your trueness to your friends & self

15. your ability to bend with what is needed at a given time, but still not break or lose yourself in the process

16. your culinary sensibility

17. your gentle, tender nature that nurtures our home, heart and family

18. the way music moves your soul

19.your strawberry locks that now don the heads of our little ones

20. your day-to-day, as well as future-minded sense of  and follow-through with responsibility to yourself and your family

21. my luckiness in getting to love and go through life with you.

Thank you- truely…I love you so…

Gratitude Journal: In honor of a year with the Quail

1. Making Zuzu into an awesome sister

2. Being an awesome sister yourself

3. the little hands sweeping behind you gesture you make when you are excited

4. the way your arms go up and you get all wiggly in anticipation when one of us put a receiving blanket over our shoulders

5. the courage you gave me as a mother

6. making us into a family

7. bringing me back to the kind of person I’ve always been

8. your confidence in your rightful belonging in our hearts, our family, our lives and on my hip

9. showing me the beauty in your unique face and way of being

10. your giggles, grins and gripping little hands

11. the community you bonded us too

12. your Buddha belly

13. your calm wise gaze

14. the way you follow your sister and cat around the room

15. your ability to have your cake and eat it too (you insist on being held by one of us and then immediately focus on the other)

16. for showing me there is more than one way to parent a child

17.  the reminder that we all have abilities and gifts

18. your joy and exuberance as you accomplish each developmental milestone

19.  the way you nuzzle into our necks when we hold you

20. the soft cooing sounds of you telling us what’s on your mind

21. our future- I can’t imagine our lives with anyone other then you, exactly how you are. I can’t wait to see and be with the person you are becoming and already are.

I can’t believe a year has flown by already dear girl. We all love you to itty bitty pieces and know that you are perfect exactly as you are. You make us so proud and we look forward to many, many family days together in our lives. We have so much to show you and do with you. We have learned so much about life, love and humanity already in this brief time together. This world is getting better every day- and we promise to continue to make it a happy, safe place for you to be able to spread your wings in. You are such a beauty. Thank you for gracing and blessing our lives.

Letters to my Loves

Dear Loves,

I promise to help you see that happiness is not dependent on circumstances.

Your happiness, your joy is you. It lies within you and is there for you to embrace or shun. This is one of the biggest lessons you will need to learn as you grown up. Those cookies, that doll, those shoes, that mo-mo lovey; this dream, that friend’s success or that friend or those tu-tus. Those “things” will not sustain your happiness over time.

Breed inner joy to sustain your happiness. Life happens for all of us- mostly it is not good or bad, mostly it just is.  It is our minds and attitudes that give parts of life power and meaning. My job as your parent is to help you think for yourselves, to know yourselves and to take responsiblity for yourself. None of us are not entitled to any particular life or lifestyle. We make a particular life or embrace a particular lifestyle. Whether we focus on our blessings or on the slights we feel is dependent only on ourselves.

I promise to help you understand this and take ownership of your own happiness and lives. I hope to help you both make the most out of the lives you have been given and the life you dream of.

You both are brimming with such joy and spirit naturally. I feel that when I am with you. I wish for you both the ability to be know and grow that part of yourselvs and have it as a deep well to return to it when you feel strained and drained.

Let your natural zest for life guide you both as your shining examples guide those that witness it.

Love Momma

Letters to my Loves

Gramma, Grampa & Zuzu

Gramma, Grampa & Zuzu

 

I promise to create a loving and enriching environment for you.

Dear Loves,

Ms. Chopra tells the story  of Mencius  and how his family moved to different locations in order to find the values they wanted to impart on their child. They settled on a home near a school. Once there, her son learned about books, science, philosophy and kindness to others. He began to imitate these behaviors and became one of the greatest thinkers and philosophers of his time. Mencius grew up to believe and assert that the innate goodness of a person was due to society’s influence.

There is much we can and will discuss from this story over our lifetimes. I have certainly worried about what type of environment you girls will grow up in. What the people, places and customs around you will teach you about life, love and values; as well as  influencing the adults you will grow to be. What Mencius’s mother did for him is an age old tale but one that remains relevent today. Now though, the influence of others is so insidious in our lives. Simply moving to live in a different physical enviroment  doesn’t guarantee that we will find values that match ours and only experience others behaviors that we find worthy. It is rare that any of us spend a day without any contact with the outside world. We are continuously influenced both consciously and subconsciously by advertising on our cereal boxes, the internet, the mail, the signs our neighbors put up, the television, the lyrics of a song, the words we hear spoken on a radio show or written in a magazine lying in a waiting room….etc.

Fortunately now we realize now that we do not necessarily have to become victim to all of those influences regardless of where we live. As your parents we get the opportunity to try to help you learn to interpret society around you in a way that makes sense to you. It is impossible and improbable of a task to think we should protect you from everyone elses values, beliefs and fervored opinions that don’t coincide with our own. We wouldn’t even want to. What we do promise is to help you learn to think for yourselves. To help you have the confidence and insight necessary to sort through conflicting and promising images and values you are exposed to on a minute by minute basis. We love you so and wish for you to learn to think for yourselves. You are both in the beginnings of that process now though where in order to learn to think for yourselves, you watch and imitate us. Lovey and I both have realized just how astute you both are and how spongelike you both are in soaking up everything around you. When I see you dear Zuzu, grab my shoes, my pump-pack and sunglasses and explain you have to take a taxi to the market to buy Kefir and need monies to pay for parking- I see the cogwheels in your brain turning as you work out what you need to do to nourish your little body and act grown-up. And you sweet Quail- I see my own joy reflected back at me as your smile crinkles up in your delight of our noticing you want to be picked up, or fed or have your diaper changed or just a snuggle.

We know that as your parents it is our duty to think about things before we make decisions- this is how you will learn to be thoughtful.

It is our duty to be loving in our actions- this is how you will learn to be loving in your own.

It is our duty to value you as individual human beings- so that you will see your own value and learn to value others.

While we can’t protect you from the world’s continuous influence we will teach you to protect yourselves- through development of your mind, your body, your will and your sense of esteem. We will do this by loving and being with you. By talking to and listening to you and being your soft place to fall. 

What we know as fact today was once science fiction. Everyone has an opinion as to what constitutes an enriching and loving environment- from where you should sleep, to how you eat and what you eat, to where you learn and who you talk to and when. As to whether or not those ideas that are currently touted as facts remain so or flow into the river of good intentions is yet to be seen. We do our educated best for you today and will continue to throughout your long lives. You bring the love and richness to all of our collective and individual lives and for that we are eternally grateful.

Love, Momma

Letters to my Loves

Small ones  in the Mountains

Small ones in the Mountains

 

I promise to celebrate life with you.

 

Dear Loves-

Today we veer away from Ms. Chopra’s 100 promises to my baby with a simple promise of celebration of life. We are in the midst of the time of year when our celebratory activities pick up the pace. Last month was the 9th anniversary of your parents marriage, your grandma’s birthday and the start of a new school year. This month we had Auntie Shell’s birthday, Auntie Deb and Uncle Greg’s engagement and a special visit from them. Next month is dear Zuzu’s birthday and Halloween and then on to the traditional holiday festivals. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful moments  in our lives to celebrate & to have the good fortune to recognize and celebrate them. I promise to always celebrate the little and the big times in our lives.

In fact part of why today’s letter and promise is short and sweet is we are in the middle of getting ready to go to a friend’s birthday party  this weekend, and another friends dinner party, baking a practice cake for Zuzu’s upcoming birthday and preparing for an apple picking trip with friends next weekend!

I have always loved the autumn and it’s ability to remind me of happy autumns past- and now with both of you  in our lives, the memory is so very much sweeter- as sweet as that practice cake and those apples to come!

Love, Momma

Letters to my Loves

Sisters

Sisters

Dear Loves,
When Zuzu was born we read and read and read. When will she smile? When will she roll over? When will she sit up? Why hasn’t she said Momma yet? When does she stop saying Momma over and over and over? That is how we learned about the milestones in your lives- the typical ones that everyone celebrates at least.
 Through this learning we were able to see some of your many budding gifts Zuzu dear. You are bright, inquisitive, extremely caring and physical. You have a determined spirit and are generous in sharing your love with those around you. You walked at 11 months, you said Momma at 7 months (actually you cried it in one of your many “middle of the night to cool you down because you have yet another fever from an ear infection” baths. You crawled at 6 months, sat at 4 months. You filled up your potty chart at school with pink stars at 2 years. You slept through the night at 8 weeks on the nose (and started waking each night again at 4 months on the nose). You became a big sister for the world to see at 2 and a half years. 9 months before that is when you really became a big sister. Since that time you have blossomed and we have seen milestones the likes of which we never anticipated from a 2 year old. You would sing the in-utero Quail to sleep and cover my burgeoning  belly with a blanket. You named your sister Baby Quailee and would tell her small shape that you loved her and couldn’t wait to meet her. You would stand quietly by while I barfed each morning, either holding my hair back or munching on a pack of gummy bears you had served yourself and then ask me if I was all better. You witnessed my hormonal fits and “blew away my crankies” and then asked if I was happy now.  You stayed your first night without us in the loving care of your Gramma and told her how your Momma was at Baby Quailee’s house (aka the hospital). You welcomed her home that first night out of the hospital with the generous words, “I love you Baby Quailee, you’re my best friend I ever had”. And you bowled us over with your grace and good nature as you watched your sister nurse your Momma and sat quietly by and then unprompted took her hand in yours to comfort her.  What an incredible spirit for such a little soul.
And now with with you dear Quail we don’t feel the need to read the week by week reports of expectations. We are able to sit back and watch as your feathers unfurl at your own pace. We watch hopefully into your nest for signs of a smile and rejoice when you giggle with a simple tickle.  Our best game to date is to put you, dear Quail; on your belly and watch you push your arms up and over as you figure out how to get out of serving tummy time. We revel in your contemplative gaze as you wait for us to look at you and then burst into an eye-crinkling smile once we’ve made eye contact. We lean in for a kiss as you chortle your vowel recital to us in the early morning light.  We shop for new toys to hand you as you practice bringing your hands to midline and smooth hand to hand transfers. We bend down to cheer you on as you grab your small foot to hoist it up to your rosebud of a mouth. Each day is a milestone as you continue to stoicly gain your 1/2 oz of weight blowing us further and further away from the stormcloud of potential open-heart surgery.  We rejoiced as you have moved from eating from a syringe, to an SNS system, to a Soothie Bottle, to a Dr. Brown’s to the start of nursing directly. The weekend I was able to nurse you to sleep at 6 months for the first time is one of our proudest moments to date.
You both, dear Loves, have given us the sweetest of memories in your short lives with us.  We will continue to celebrate your  milesstones- from pooping in the potty, to sitting independently, to your first dance recitals.  From first teeth, to swinging out over the slide at the park before going down, to your first tea party. From first days at daycare, school, dance class and trips on the airplane. From first bites of cereal to pouring a glass of banana juice “my own self”. From the first delicately laid out fall-on-the-floor tantrum, to your wise advice to me that, “You make people sad when you are frustrated Mommy. You need to be nice to be a good Christian.” From both of your blessedly steady growth curves to your burgeoning show of memory as the nurse comes into to give you your 15 month vaccinations and you wail at the mere sight of her with that awful tray.
We are so very blessed to have so many special moments together already and can’t wait to see what the future holds each day anew.
Love, Momma   

Letters to my Loves

Family time

Family time

I promise to reach for balance in my life and yours.

 Dear Loves-

 This promise will probably always be a work in progress. I resolve to keep doing the work. Mallika Chopra talks about the pull between mothers that go out of the home to work and those that quit the workforce to stay home.  I feel the need to find balance in so many areas of our lives. Balance between work and home life, friends and family, me-time and a time for others, and most recently between focusing on the Down syndrome part of our worlds versus just focusing on you dear Quail.

There are many families that have parented a child that has Down syndrome before us. Since you have come along I’ve found out just how common it is. I’ve read about the families of Charles de Gaulle, Charles Darwin and Dr. William Sears. Dr Sears talks about both online and in his Baby Book about parents trying to find a balance between diving head first into the world of special needs and focusing their families life on that versus focusing just on their child and fitting their child into the mainstream of their families already existing life. I’m honestly still not sure where I fall with this balancing act to date. But I do know that we will continue to reexamine what you need, dear Quail, as well as what we all need individually at different times in our lives together. I intend to take my lead from you as you develop and show me what you need. I expect to sometimes speak for, sometimes with and sometimes- well- most of the time to let you speak for yourself.  Our world is constantly changing, evolving and I hope improving in its acceptance and tolerance of issues that not everyone’s family faces. I know my mind has broadened just by virtue of you and your sister’s short but sweet lives. I thought I knew so much as I started compiling my parenting library before I’d even spent a day with either of you. Now in your dear presences I can see how much I still get to learn! I’m grateful you help me know that and are so forgiving as I try.

In the choice to work outside the home there are so many factors to consider as well. I always, always ache for more time with my family. I also know that work is a part of a healthy and productive life. I work not just so we have income and stability but also to show both of you little girls that we are each responsible for our own lives. While we work together as a family and we take care of each other- both your dad and I are strong, smart, independent and capable people who have strengths and gifts that we share with each other, you dear girls and our community and world at large. I see working as a privilege. I see especially in you; sweet Zuzu, how what I do- every little thing- sinks into your brain as you develop your worldview. I see it in how you talk, how you play, and how you respond to the routines in your life. Women have fought for centuries for choice in their lives. With every generation a little more has been achieved. I want to instill in both of you a sense of strong independence and capability. I want you both to feel capable of knowing and taking care of yourselves as adults. And for our family at this time that involves you both going to your little school while your Dad and I go to work. It is because we love you both so much that we live our lives this way. It is because we see ourselves as your role models and your world. I see how you have blossomed under the watchful of eye of your kind teachers dear Zuzu- how much you imitate what you see at home and at school. I listen to you chatter about your friends and your day and what you have learned already at such a young age- and I am so very proud. I want these same experiences for The Quail- I want her to have every opportunity that you have and I know that her being accepted and part of her community that she lives in begins early and with our providing the effort to make her a part of it.

Which brings me to the balancing act of friends and family. How much time we spend with just ourselves versus with those in the wonderful community in which we live and learn. We are so very blessed to have so many wonderful people in our lives; both far and wide, in real life and on-line, in the town and region in which we live and all around the country and globe. Our family we were born into lives all over the country; in South Dakota, Wisconsin, California, Washington just to name a few. We are blessed to live in a time when air travel is able to take us to see them and bring them to us. We live in a time in which this is a natural part of the cycle of our year. It is so hard though- we want to share every holiday and special occasion with all of them and what we have to settle for is so infrequent. Fortunately as technology improves we are able to find new ways to keep in touch and know one another. In the same breath we want to establish family life, love and tradition in our own home- to create for ourselves the memories that your Dad and I cherish from our own dear childhoods- family trips, holidays, meals, gardens, routines as simple as watching a program or reading together.

And then of course there is finding the balance of me-time versus time for others- both friends, family and work time. I used to not feel such a need for it, but the more overloaded with tasks and activities I get the more I notice the need to know to know there is me-time on the horizon to do things like photos, read, watch TV, listen to radio shows, cook, plan our families future, dream, go out to eat, shop, go to the library, garden, take a lavender bath, play and talk to friends and family. I find myself getting up earlier and earlier to try to fit bits of these favorite activities into my already jam packed life. I have to find the balance between getting enough of a taste of time for me so that I look forward to more and don’t feel so guilty in doing it. So that I’m not neglecting the tasks that need to be done and the activities that I love. There has to be enough of a balance that I am able to have presence of mind- that I’m here present with my family and soaking in every minute and not thinking of what I still need or want to do and ending up not paying attention to what is right in front of me. As time goes on I find creative ways to do this. Ways like right now when I’m sitting at the computer in the early morning light thinking, smiling, watching the sun come up out of the office windows while I drink a cup of soy-milk coffee from the beans our dear Kathryn brought us with her recent visit to meet you girls. I can enjoy this precious moment because I know that we have a beautiful day ahead of us full of activity and fun. That in a few hours we’ll meet your friend Hayden and his mommy- who has become a dear friend to us; at the community pool so that we can get some exercise in our day before returning home to nap and cook for another group of precious friends- all friends who you girls know from our community. We’ll get adult time with the parents and you kidlets will get to play together. Of course the other thing that enables this fragile moment in the early morning light is the fact that as I type your Dad is sleeping in because he was up during the night feeding the Quail while I took a turn sleeping. The fact that one of you is up nursing with me now and the other is sleeping soundly. I know soon the nursing will finish, the heartbeats will stir and everyone will wake. The daily chaos of family life will begin to move us through our day- sometimes getting to do what we planned and sometimes breaking from that routine to do what is most pressing at the moment. That is also a balancing act that we work through daily. How to stay with the routine and how to be flexible with our plans and days.

I am so very blessed to have all of these things to balance in my life- from Dear Lovey who I share my daily blessing with so intimately, to you dear small ones, to the friendships that have blossomed both in real life and online in the last year to our devoted and steadfast families both near and far away. From the jobs we go to daily, to the plans we dream of. I promise to remain flexible and open as our families needs grow over the years we are blessed with and shift the balance in a way to continue to search for harmony in all of our lives together. I know what is right for our family now is not right for other families or even our own in the future. It is easy to just look for other peoples’ or cultures’ world view that validate your own. But my goal for us is to not judge others choices in how they live their loving family lives but to learn and grow and listen to our own collective family heart.

 Love, Momma