Dance with Me

Tiny Dancer. Dancing Queen. Dancing in the Moonlight. None of these song titles-turned-blog post titles is quite right. Celie is by no means tiny (and she's fine with that, as are we!) We do treat Cel like royalty; we can't help but coddle her... but she's more princess than queen. And although she's often still up when the moon is out, Celie doesn't dance anymore.
But she will dance again someday. And when we're reunited, it will be a joy to watch her recitals, and to dance with her...



Pillow Talk

I'd like to thank the person who invented sisters. Genius.

And just when I thought my sister couldn't get any better, she became an aunt. Awesome.

In the beginning, she spoiled Celia. And then she moved away, and was a really good aunt from afar, spoiling Celia just the same. And then Celia got sick, and Kate moved back. And she still spoils Celia. She's cool like that.

Aunt Kate with Celia, May 2007
Her onesie (Cel's, not Kate's), says: "Nobody puts Baby in the corner." Kate got it for her, you know, cause it references Dirty Dancing, which is cool, and because she spoils Celia...

Now that Kate's home again, she keeps Cel overnight for us about once a week (on the days she's not grocery shopping for us, or giving Colby a bath, or working her own job). They build a fort, and Sebi joins them. In fact, when Cel wakes up throughout the night, and Kate comforts her, Sebi sneaks a leg out from his own covers (yes, she tucks in her dog) to paw at Kate, a reminder that he needs attention, too. He's a tad bit jealous, but that doesn't deter Kate from being all aunt-like and making Cel her priority. Celia comes first, because... well, you've already caught my point here, so I won't beat it down.

That's Celia wedged in the far corner, Kate, and Sebi all tucked in, just a few nights ago.

If you're going to be up in the middle of the night, Kate's a fun one to be with. I imagine she and Celia share some special times in the wee hours in their little fort.
My sister, Celia's aunt...she's not like the other side of your pillow cool, but even better.




Colby is not eligible for the Red Cross babysitting course; our local list of offerings clearly indicates you must be eleven to enroll in the training class. (Colby's birthday is approaching, and he'll turn eight at the end of May). But perhaps it's a good thing he's a delinquent babysitter; otherwise I might decide to leave him in charge and head for the nearest highway, attempting escape much the same way Colby does when we inadvertently leave the backyard gate open...
Although he isn't qualified to take care of Cel and Tuck, Colby's more than qualified to care for them. He's uber-empathetic, accompanying their cries with languishing, low howls. And he's agreeable to sharing toys, will trade his red ball for their squeaky giraffe (see top). He shares his dog food too (see above), tidies up the floor around the highchair and licks messy faces clean. He even acts as a "stop" on one side, to assist with diaper changes once babies begin to roll, or as a pillow when they're working on sitting up (see below).It's true, dogs do make the best of friends.


Mr. T

No, not the "I pity the fool" Mr. T, but our own little Mr. T.
He's strong. In fact, he'sHe's just not quite big enough to wear the shirt that says so.
But, he can hold his head up really well.And he does have a mohawk.
And he did get a minor role in a little industrial video, to be filmed next week, so the potential for stardom is there...
But he doesn't accessorize with gold chains...



The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Great book, beautiful art work, but an even better message - the well-known transformation is one of the first scientific miracles children learn.
One night last week when Celia refused to sleep, I thought something "familiar" might calm her. I sang her the songs of her infancy... "Baby Baluga"... our version of made-up verses to "Hush Little Baby"... you know, some standard stuff. When singing failed to produce sweet nocturne, I thought maybe a favorite story book would work... 'sept I didn't feel like getting out of bed since I'm pretty sure the clock said something like 3:74 in the morning. So... The Very Hungry Caterpillar is pretty easy to remember. (As long as you or your kids don't care what day the caterpillar ate which fruit, or which order all the treats are consumed on Saturday!) As I whispered the words in her ear, her curly hair tickled my nose, and in the retelling I discovered a different, but similar, message.
As parents, we read these stories and watch the fairy tales and dream of our sons and daughters blossoming, soaring, transforming just like Eric Carle's butterfly. My version of this story is different. Celia was a VERY hungry caterpillar (as evidenced by the circumference of her thighs!) Just like the caterpillar, everything was going along smoothly for Celia, until one day our caterpillar didn't feel too good. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with overindulgence. Now I watch my daughter spin a cocoon around herself knowing that inside, just like in the story, is a beautiful butterfly waiting to soar. And I find myself wishing there were as simple an ending to her story as there is in the book, that she could just chew a hole in her chrysalis and get out, that there were some other miracle of science to be shared.


*Butterfly image courtesy of Google image search (please don't sue us Mr. Carle).


Yes, No

Yes, Celia loves her Grandma Rosie.

No, she didn't ever get the chance to say so with words, but there's no doubt it's true.
Yes, I'm using this post format as an excuse to share photos of Celia in her smocked Easter dress.

No, I'm not ashamed to admit that.

Yes, it's true that, on occasion, Andy calls Grandma Rosie "Grandma Clothesie," due in large part to the fact that there are a lot of outfits she "just couldn't resist" buying for Cel.

No, it's not the clothes that make the girl.

Yes, Celia's behavior in her Easter dress simply made her even lovelier.

No, I'm not sure how we ended up with the best little girl in the world.



Beauty by Association

Tucker and I took a walk yesterday. And my senses were overwhelmed. Chronically tired and constantly scared, maybe I’ve been missing out. Blind to the golden slant of the evening sun, deaf to the gentle whispers of wind, sleepwalking through the possibility of joy.

Outside, I noticed how intensely colorful the neighbors’ tulips are. Like life turned up the saturation on flora to one hundred percent, a vibrancy created in nature that likely could not be replicated with any photo editing program. School let out while we walked, and youthful voices floated through the air around us, skateboards and bicycles whizzed past.

The colors, the sounds, even the smells… could it be that this is where it all begins, that rest of the world has to put up with leftovers or hand-me-downs? Could the colors be this vivid, the sounds this melodic, the scents this delicious in other parts of the city, let alone the other side of the world? How lucky are we to live right here, to walk these streets, surrounded by such displays of spectacularity?

It felt good to observe goodness, to be grateful for nature's artistry. Being thankful allowed things I'd neglected to notice recently to take on a new life of beauty. Like myself, even. The walk was restorative. It reminded me that soft stirrings of gratitude can silken a difficult path.

As it turns out, Celia also took a walk yesterday. With Aunt Kate and G'Ro and Sebi, her second favorite canine. And she stopped to appreciate nature's beauty, too.

And sure, a walk may remind me to be grateful, may make me feel pretty again, but so can spending time with this spectacular little thing:



Rock the Size of Gibraltar

I'm not wearing one. I live with one. And I'd way rather my rock be by my side than on my finger or around my neck, if you know what I mean...



Rock Stars may be Jealous

Although Andy does have some experience as Celia's hairdresser, her tangled tresses and Tucker's miniature mohawk require little coaxing from us. No toiling away with brushes or combs around here. We're going with au naturale, and wondering whether they'll set any new trends...



What I Thought

I used to think that Easter was about egg hunts and jelly beans, pictures with the Bunny and frilly dresses. I mean, I know the felt board Sunday school story, crucified and risen. And I've heard the Holy Week sermon a time or two. But I didn't give it a whole lot of thought outside of one Sunday morning a year, and even then my mind may have wandered to thoughts of devouring deviled eggs later in the day... and, let's be honest, I was looking forward to Reese eggs, too.

I thought that this year we'd celebrate Easter with pastel plastic eggs, hidden, discovered, opened and shared.
I thought that this year would allow for some great photos, of not just one but two children, in cute color-coordinated outfits.
I thought that this year we could dye eggs together, that our fingers might be stained purple at Easter dinner, a sign of our dedicated decorating.

I think that this year the story I've heard over and over was heard differently, was more meaningful, made more sense.

I know that Easter is not all bunny hops and bonnet parades. It's life and death, and life again...

The hyacinths, party favors from Cel's first birthday last year, are blooming in our yard again this spring, a symbol of the glorious promise of eternal life...



There's been LOTS of crying around here the past 24 hours. The sound has filled any brain space that may have been available for inspiring nice blog posts.

In the movie, the rabbit Thumper's mother reminds him (just as my mother often did):

"If you don't have anything nice to say... don't say nothin' at all."

And we don't right now. We'll post more again when we do. JEB


Perfect by Every Measure

Tucker is one month old. One month. It's really just another number. He's gained three pounds, and grown three inches. More numbers. Sometimes we get hung up on numbers and measurements.

It won't matter much to him, to anybody, how much Tucker weighed when he was 1 month old. His size has very little to do with who he is, or the sizable impact he's already had on us. We'll keep track of these measurements, when we remember. Our records won't be meticulous. But we aim to keep track of more, too... to describe him, how he already amazes and inspires us.

He lifts his head, sparsely covered in fine dark hair, supported by such a strong neck. He fixes his eyes, dark blue and gray and brown, they focus and follow. He purses his lips, full and pink, a little like his sister's, his tongue occasionally flicking in and out. He cuddles into the crook of Andy's arm, and rests there almost as soundly as he rests in his carseat. When he's awake, he thinks he needs to eat, hungry to the brink of starvation. He raises his eyebrows and swallows in synchrony. And when he's finished eating, he burps in a manner that sounds as though he's been swigging beer. He might be proud of his booming baby belches someday. It might mean more to him than how much he weighed.

Tucker is, by our accounts, perfect by every measure.



What's Up

Chicken butt?
For some reason, that's what Aunt Kate has been asking me all day...



Let there be Light

There doesn't seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel. But that doesn't mean we're in the dark. We just have to find our own light.
Yesterday I got to take a shower (only a few hours after having been spit up on) and use an awesomely refreshing minty flavored soap. And this morning, I saw Celia giving Andy kisses, just like she used to - leaning in with an open mouth and lots of drool. A few days ago a beautiful flowering bush was delivered, a gift from dear friends. Every Wednesday, in March and April, sweet women from book club bring delicious dinners to our home. Yesterday, as I was running errands, a car with two high-schoolish boys inched forward next to me at a stoplight on High Street; they were totally flirting (apparently oblivious to the carseats in the back of my Jeep...) I'll take that as a compliment, an indication that maybe I am still hotdotcom. That'll count as light. Tonight, my sister is making us squash pancakes and cobbler. Tomorrow, too, something lovely will happen, something worth celebrating, something that brightens our outlook.
There must be cracks in the tunnel... because most days we are able to find a few inches of light to stand in. Some days the light is very dim, and other days it's fleeting... but we catch it, and we soak it up. And it feels good.


Photo from Celia's Baptism,10.2007. Celia's middle name, Eleanor, means "light."