Happy Birthday dear Zuzu! Today is your 8th birthday.

Oh dear Zuzu, where have the years gone?! As you like to tell it, you’re practically 10! I have a feeling you are going to love being 8 though. The older you get, the more you come into your own. The stronger you feel the urge to lead, to organize, to understand your world around you. You remain a kind, sensitive, strong, smart and loyal girl. One who watches out for what is expected of her and her peers and tries to help things happen that way. You watch out for your sisters as much as you mother and play with them. They learn so very much from you. You’re enthusiasm for the everyday fills your lungs, your legs, your heart and your brain. You are in second grade now. You are acing this thing called school. You welcomed your little sister in to your community, your school this year and take on such a big responsibility of ensuring that she is ok. You not only asked for this responsibility, but were sad when it was suggested you didn’t have to do that. You take pride in your school, your community and your Girl Scout troop. We love you so baby girl!

Zuzu’s Favorite Things:

Favorite TV Show: My Little Pony

Favorite Movie: Equestria Girls

Favorite Breakfast: pancakes & waffles, or a breakfast sandwich from McDonald’s

Favorite Lunch: corn dog, cheese ravioli or cheeseburgers

Favorite Dinner: Ravioli

Favorite Fruit: strawberries

Favorite Veggie: full size crunchy carrots

Favorite Dessert: any kind of sugar

Favorite Drink: juice, milk & Sprite

Favorite Color: orange & purple & white

Favorite Restaurant: Papa’s & Ring Restaurant (El Jimador)

Favorite Sport: jump-rope team

Favorite Toy: Barbie Dolls & My Little Pony Dolls

Favorite Song: Let it go! Any Katy Perry Songs, But I’m only Human

Favorite Book: Junie B. Jones and Rainbow Magic Books

Best Friends: Sophie, Annie, Micayla, Lucy, Gracie, Averi S (from Kindy), EriKa, Averi S (from first grade) Abby & Emma

Favorite Day of the week: Weekends- I love playing!

Favorite Time of the day: Bedtime- I can snuggle my family

Favorite Season: Fall and Winter- because Fall is when my birthday is and Winter has snow and I love to eat snow and go sledding!

Favorite Outfit: Elsa Dress!

Favorite Family Vacation: Del Mar- whenever I get to see my Birthday Twinnie!

Favorite Family Outing: going swimming

Favorite thing ever:Snuggling my mommy, playing “Where’s Maddie” with my Daddy, painting nails with my sisters, playing with my toys, getting to open birthday presents, watching TV

Favorite day of the year: My birthday!

Favorite place to go: to parties and to my friend’s houses

Favorite Holiday: Halloween & Christmas because you get candy and presents

What’s the thing you are most looking forward to about being 8: Being an even number and getting that much closer to being taller than my mommy

The worst thing ever at this age is: doing chores…..

five minute friday: hands

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.



“Quail- do you want to go see your sister’s end of the year show this morning?” Her face lights up as she hollers yes, jumps twice for good measure and starts to tell the baby what is on the agenda. These sisters- they are there for each other. They don’t think about it they just are.

As we press open the weighted door to the first grade classroom I spy Zuzu sitting criss-cross applesauce by a set of desks close to the door. Our eyes meet and crinkle simultaneously as we slip into the full classroom near her spot. We are headed to a therapy appointment for the Quail within the hour and Zuzu’s teacher generously offered to let Zuzu’s group go first for their Reader’s Theater performance knowing how much it would mean to Zuzu that we are there to bare witness. Her group reads “The Fourth Little Pig” and Zuzu narrates her highlighted sections from her paper script. When they finish she rushes back to the area we are seated in and presses herself as close between the two desks separating us as she can manage so that she can momentarily bridge the gap between her school and home life. As the last group finishes up and I reach to the desk to set the camera down I see the girl’s hands entwined under the desk. The Quail’s small hand gently stroking Zuzu’s skinny fingers as she grips the Quail’s leg. They aren’t looking at each other and don’t appear to be otherwise aware of each other. Except they know. They orbit each other unconsciously. Drawing each other into their days and worlds.

This unconscious grace and acceptance, it has been there since Zuzu was first made a sister. As I sat on my rumpled bedsheets in the afternoon light nursing my newborn Quail, Zuzu crawled up to us all doe-eyed cautiousness not wanting to disrupt the nursing she herself held dear. I invited her in and as she joined us I looked down to see her hand protectively hovering over her new baby sisters, expressing more than she was able to say.



corner view: something to celebrate!

Corner view is a weekly Wednesday gathering, originally hosted by Jane, now by Francesca. A topic is given and you can see impressions; be it photographic or writerly in form, from around the world. Come see the world’s corner view via the links on the sidebar!


I’ve put a lot of effort into reclaiming myself this past year. After almost 8 years of mothering I’ve been feeling more than a bit, well, not myself. My energy level has waned, my weight has bloomed, I’m irritable, scattered and tired. So 6 months ago I started the Couch to 5K program during my lunch hour. I figured that since I had spent over 3 years of lunch hours pumping milk for the babies I could  spend that time exercising for me- and also for them- happy mom = happy kiddos and all that. After 4 months of regular running and upping my walking time outside of that though, I lost 6 inches around my waist but no real change with my weight. So in February I restarted Weight Watchers- fast forward 7 weeks and I’m down 12 pounds- I’m on my way! In February members of my on-line fitness group that I had started last fall when I began running decided we needed to create a team for the upcoming Color Run which was scheduled for April in our town for the first time. In total there were 40 of us Tired Tiger Moms and our little runners. And the day was great! If you’ve never done a Color Run or any kind of race- take this from a tired momma who has yet to feel a runner’s high- sign up for a Color Run! This world-wide phenomenon of a 5k raises money for your local charities and offers a light-hearted emphasis on fun and fitness. When my friends first mentioned it I was fairly certain I was not going to join in. After completing the C25K program I found I really didn’t enjoy running for 20-30 minutes straight and I was constantly looking for excuses to not go out and run. So I switched over to a more Jeff Galloway- type approach and settled in with doing a 5 minute warm-up and cool down with 10 intervals of 2 minutes run/1 minute walking in between three times a week. While I’ve managed to keep it up, I’ve yet to say I truly enjoy it while I’m doing it. I’ve tried audio books, Netflix and Pandora to keep my interest up. There has been a noticeable benefit in trying to keep up with the kiddos and not feeling winded, cranky and exhausted playing with them. Then the thermometer rose to 76 degrees and the end of my outdoor running stretch was clearly in sight. I’m already up at 6 am and I barely have time to use the loo on my own in the evenings- so switching to a cooler time of day is not likely. I had a little on-line temper tantrum “announcing” that I was done running until the autumn, and then, what do you know- the thermometer and I kept at it.

This past weekend came The Color Run. Zuzu and I had agreed to join in but we both had our own set of worries. For Zuzu- she was convinced a bear would appear on the race course and spent the morning of the race plotting how she would finagle getting up on the bear to ride him the remainder of the course. For me the thought of being up early on one of the two mornings I get to sleep my exhausted self in so that I could run in the cool morning air and have paint thrown at me was just not appealing. Zuzu also had created an image of buckets of liquid paint being thrown at us as we tried to run away. Yet, bless her devoted little heart- in spite of bear and paint attacks she applied her HAPPY arm tattoo, donned her Color Run glasses and anxiously followed her beloved mother out to the car. When we arrived at the scene of what can only be described as a rock concert- both of our eyes widened- mine in excitement, hers in alarm as I tried to herd over to the run’s mascot- the Runicorn. Shaking and clinging like a baby monkey to me she absolutely refused to go anywhere near her favorite animal in the world. Let’s just say she was insistent enough that I am clear it would be folly to pay for a trip to Disney for this child. We tried to join in the warm-up work-out but in spite of the pop music and enthusiasm around us she remained stricken at the thought of the paint and bears. Once we were on the course her typical anxiety acts started in, she alternated telling me her heart and tummy hurt and that she didn’t want to wear the fluorescent tutu I had gotten her with pointing out how ridiculous men looked in tutus. She was so-not-happy. And then we got to the first color area. As we ran through the fine mist of powder and wiped it off of our glasses she looked down trying to spy the streaks of yellow. About a half-mile out from there when we spotted the pink station her pace picked up and her complaints faded as she ran up to the people cheering to be sprayed. From that point on she was sold. This was fun! We alternated walking and running per her requests and six months of prep-work let me keep up with her. After we got our water and kind bars and the paint throws in the finish galley started she perked up and asked to get up on my shoulders to cheer and eventually got herself over the fencing and up on stage to join the little runners in their celebration. Full throttle this girl of mine- all or nothing. Win big or stay home. Next year- we’re bringing the whole family. Fitness seems to be the new us. My first race at age 41, Zuzu’s first race at 7. Now that’s something to celebrate!


Ps- Oh and I also gave up caffeine last week. While I’m not quite ready to celebrate this experiment, I am pretty impressed with how good I feel without it- I see a new more focused, calm, happy energized family life coming my way in this next year.

Next week- Back to a regular yoga practice. Yay!



About a year and a half ago I asked Zuzu if she would like to be a Girl Scout. There was an informational meeting scheduled for that weekend.

“Yeah!!! Let’s be Girl Scouts!!! Let’s beat those Boy Scouts!!!”

Um, no. Not the point of Girl Scouts, and in fact a very good reason to become a Girl Scout. So we put our name in the hat and waited. And waited. And finally we got the good word- we had a troop and even better the new troop leader goes to the same daycare/preschool we use and could take Zuzu with her to the meetings, which were scheduled during my work hours and the Quail’s weekly occupational and physical therapy. Really, it couldn’t have been better planned. Zuzu has been known to come home all mopey on Mondays because her sister gets picked up from after-school care and she doesn’t get to play with her. And this group of girls, or at least those signed up for it, are some of our favorite little buddies in our community.

Zuzu in all her fervor and excitement then proceeded to go invite a series of other little buddies to join, and a number of them did. All told there are about a dozen newly designated sunny little Daisy Scouts in our town. From the moment Zuzu got word that her troop was forming and that Ms. Debbie was going to be the leader, she started seeking her out with questions:

“Ms. Debbie- will we sell cookies?”

“Ms. Debbie- how much will the cookies cost?”

“Ms. Debbie- if they cost $3.50 how about we charge $5 so we can make more money!”

“Ms. Debbie- I gave the other little girls homework so we would be ready for the meeting.”

And so on and so forth. One day when I picked her up she told me she wasn’t ready to go home yet because she was making notebooks and buttons for each of her fellow Daisy Scouts. And sure enough- stuffed in her backpack were bits of torn and stapled cut up papers and markered circles with the names of her friends.

This girl was born to be a leader. When she was young we had her in dance class. Our little daycare/private school took her each Wednesday. She enjoyed it, but didn’t really seem to burst with the enthusiasm she was known for. By the third year of class though her teacher recommended we move her to a new group because she was essentially using her as a little dance assistant by that time in order to get all the kids to their spots. Unfortunately , as a dual-working-out-of-the-house set of parents that wasn’t going to work for us.

So we moved on to gymnastics. It was ok, she is spritely, but with her class there was a LOT of waiting her turn, something that isn’t easy for her high-energy-self. When she was moved into an intermediate class there, she found herself in amongst girls quite a bit older and bigger and our brave girl started to quake. And then to complain. And then to ask to not go. We finished up the session and then told her she didn’t have to sign back up if she didn’t want to. She decided it “might be good to take a little break.”

So for a year we didn’t really have any extra-curricular, until Daisy Scouts was ready for us. The very first night of class we walked in both a little anxious. Zuzu- she’s not like the other girls. She doesn’t sit quietly reading and coloring. She whooshes. She zooms. She full-out runs. And chatters. And asks questions. And directs traffic. I had spent the morning reminding myself that scouting is about building confidence and leadership in young girls, two traits that Zuzu already had in abundance. And this was not about my micro-managing-helicoptoring her. Which would be hard for me, what with my preference towards social niceties. Well when we walked in the room we were greated by a tribe of chattering girls. All full of colorful enthusiasm and energy. Zuzu was not the most boisterous by a long stretch- these were her people.

For the next few weeks she came home bursting with the Girl Scout law and the characteristics and values it was teaching her- sharing, helpfulness, honesty, fairness. She loved the explanations and the little embroidered daisy petal patches that she was growing on her small deep blue vest.

We started our troop partway through the school year and so we got off to a bit of a late start in the age-old tradition of Girl Scout Cookie sales. We were told that in spite of this, the starting goal for each girl would be to sell 100 boxes. We would have one cookie booth that we could take part in to meet that goal, and otherwise we were to attempt individual sales. I have to say- this is the part of scouting that I have been least interested in. I don’t like going and asking someone to buy something or to donate something. Of course, the goal wasn’t for me to sell 100 boxes (even though when Zuzu joined I proudly paid my own dues and renewed my childhood membership to the Girl Scouts of America), it was for her to. But nowadays- people don’t really go door-to-door. At least not when you don’t know most of your neighbors. Our first attempt at sales was the first cookie booth. Zuzu was so excited the morning leading up to it. On her own initiative she made 3 different signs letting people know when and where she would be selling cookies and begged us to walk her around the neighborhood hanging her sign. I went ahead a snapped a picture and put it on Facebook. And lo and behold….people bought cookies! Next she decided to make a “commericial” to sell her cookies- so I put it up on Facebook and again- people bought cookies!

That afternoon we joined two of her troop-mates outside of our resident Lowe’s and the spirited little girls accosted, I mean asked passers-by to buy their cookies. The girls had lots to learn in this experience about customer service, money management, and being careful with the cookies. I was only at the table for 45 minutes, but I was beat by the time we headed home. That day we sold enough boxes and each girl got credit for 11. The next day she started calling our relatives. Unfortunately most of them don’t live near by. One thing the Girl Scouts do though is participate in a “Cookie Share”. When people pay for cookies,  instead of getting the cookies- the cookies are then wrapped up and shipped to soldiers overseas. This seemed like a wonderful opportunity to do service for those doing service for us. We managed to sell 29 of these donations.

The next week we talked during school drop-off and pick-up about people that she knows that might like to buy, her friends, her teachers, her after-school care staff, previous teachers. Each morning she would tell me no- that she was too shy to ask, and then 3-4 afternoons a week she would surprise me with a new order. A few were pipe-dream orders- little friends with cookies in their eyes. I was careful to check with their parents before placing the orders. Then on the last night to sell cookies Zuzu realized she hadn’t called her Nana and Bapa about cookie sales yet and they were coming to visit soon. So she called and sure enough they bought. When she went back to write down their orders she realized she was only 4 boxes short of her goal and went back to proudly tell them. They of course, being sweet grandparents, happily bought 4 more boxes for the soldiers and Zuzu met her goal!

I hadn’t asked anyone at my work directly to buy cookies. Lovey hadn’t either, we shared her commercial and talked about her efforts on Facebook and during the last few days of the sale I reminded her that if she wanted I would happily hang a sign-up sheet at work to buy cookies. She made it. I hung it. We got more cookie orders. A number of folks commented that when the child asks, they will donate. I’m glad she worked so hard on this in her own way. She sold in total 115 boxes in three weeks.

I’m so proud of her work, her attention to detail and her enthusiasm for the Girl Scouts. She seems to have found her calling.

five minute friday: write

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.



“Momma. I need a pen. I need to write down how well I did on my math test and leave it for Daddy to read when he gets home tonight.”

“Q-u-a-i-l. Good! Good job writing your name! You did it all by yourself!”

“Momma, here’s the list. I asked the Quail who she wants to come to her birthday party and then I wrote it down for you.”

“Me. Yes. Write. Name.  Me. “

They do what they see, right? They learn from what we do. Momma typing on the computer. Daddy writing the grocery list. Their teachers writing on the pro-boards. Their friends coloring in the valentine hearts. And they pick up their pens, and their crayons, and their markers and their chalk and they scribble and turn the paper and write the letters they’ve studied on the refrigerator, on the TV, in the books we read to them, in the books they are learning to read to themselves.

“Momma- let ME make a webpage. Let ME type in the webpage I want. Let ME write the list. Let ME call Gramma by myself. Let me write the story that goes with that picture”

Suddenly they are not the babies I hold, and wipe up and dress and feed. Suddenly they are individuals with opinions, and ways of doing things and rules they want to follow and enforce of their own. Suddenly they are alternate versions of myself writing their own story that I can’t put down.



five minute friday: hero

…where a brave and beautiful bunch gather every week to find out what comes out when we all spend five minutes writing on the same topic and then sharing ‘em over here.


It’s the giggle from under the covers as she sneaks up into the bend in my arms in the early morning shadows before I’m fully awake. It’s the self-possession of her stance as she defies my instructions to put a warmer coat on. It’s the calmness in her voice as she turns away from the car, heading into the elementary school,whispering that she is not very happy with me today.  It’s the light in her eyes as she sees me enter her room at school to volunteer for the class party.

It’s the excitement in her voice as she tells me about her school project where she has to create a musical instrument and has decided to make two so she can give Ms. Allen one as well because she knows she loves music. It’s the pride in her voice as she instructs the Quail to come with her so they can pack their lovies for the weekend trip. It’s the spirit in her voice as she softens it to talk to her sister about how to be kind and not to tell people no so much if she wants to have friends and people to play with. It’s the thump against the wall as she cartwheels down the hall with her little sisters in hot pursuit. It’s the assurance of her stance as she calls her little sister’s into her room to play school with her.

It’s the boldness of her suggestion to Ms. Debbie as she spots her coming down the daycare hall and runs after her to ask if we might could sell the Girl Scout cookies for a dollar more so we can make more money for the troop. It’s the squeeze of her sister’s hands as she pull’s them back to the side of the car at daycare pick-up. It’s the urgency in her voice as she stops me from driving to remind me to finish the buckle on her sister’s carseat.

It’s the pluck of her insistence that when she grows up she will be a teacher, a momma and then a principal to make sure everyone does what they are supposed to. It’s the tremble in her sniffle and sighs as she turns away from me to retrieve her pencil and try the timed math test over again. It’s the graceful curve in her neck as she leans down to pick up the baby whispering to her how much she loves her. It’s the running leap into his arms as Daddy opens the kitchen door at the end of the day.

It’s the rush in her voice as she lists off the numbers to Gramma’s phone in her excitement to call her with no help from us. It’s the vibrato in her tune as she unconsciously improvises lyrics for the camera.  It’s the persistence in her requests as she begs to take a shower with me, sleep with me, read to me, sit by me, come eat lunch  at school and watch another episode of My Little Pony.  It’s the thoughtful card explaining how she is giving me my childhood memorabilia back as my Christmas and birthday presents because she knows they are just as important to me as they are to her.

It’s the disappointment reflected in her eyes as she bears the weight of my overtired frustration at the end of a long day. It’s the tight squeeze of her skinny arms wrapped around my neck as she welcomes my apology into her puppy-dog pigtails for raising my voice again.  

It’s all the little ordinary details that make her my daughter, my hero day after day.