- Okay, Charlotte. Here’s how the rest of the day is going to go. We’re going to clean the bathroom right now. Then we’ll get you bathed and wash your hair. Then it’s naptime and after nap we’ll brush Hank because he’s a big shedding disaster. Maybe we’ll fold the dishtowels if we have time. And this evening when Daddy comes home we’ll take your birthday cupcakes to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to share after your birthday dinner. Sound good?
- WHOA WHOA WHOA! Momma! Don’t forget we have to read books and play!
Evelyn is crawling across the floor to me, whimpering. She is tired and she is hungry, so I turn off the water and I set down the sponge. The dishes can wait. I scoop her up and I feel her body relaxing against me. I bend my head down and kiss her and smell her and try to memorize this everyday, uneventful moment.
I find that it is the everyday, uneventful moments I miss the most as they flutter by. It is the giggles at diaper changes, the milk drunk smiles, the struggles getting a beloved onesie to fit just one last time. The moments I never think to document, to photograph, because I never really think much about them at all.
I love you, I murmur as my baby nuzzles close to my heart. Evelyn, my wild bird. Evelyn, my little hazelnut. Evelyn, my rainbow. I love you, I love you, I love you.
The words do not seem powerful enough.
This past winter Donald noticed that Charlotte was increasingly speaking to him in French and asking him to read French books. “I guess it’s time that I took a French class, isn’t it?” he said to me one night. The next day he signed up for an evening French I course at the nearest community college.
The transition to Donald being gone two nights a week was a little bumpy, but not too bad overall. I learned how to wrap the baby on my back so that I could tend to Charlotte’s night routine more easily. And although Charlotte was a little bummed to miss out on valuable play-time with her father, I explained to her that her dad was learning French at “night school” so that he could play with her in French.
A few days ago, Charlotte came to me and asked me for a sword and a shield. “A sword and a shield?” I repeated, bemused.
“Yes,” she answered pointedly. “I need a sword and a shield.”
“What do you need a sword and a shield for?” I asked her.
She did not skip a beat. “So that I can go to knight school with Daddy! And I can be a knight like him! And we can fight dragons together!”
(Shhhhhh, don’t tell the guest of honor, but upon her request Grandpa decided to make her a pair of wooden swords and shields for her birthday.)
Dear Charlotte and Evelyn,
Yesterday morning we woke up slowly. After your father left for work, I heard the telltale pitter patter of little feet crossing the bedroom floor and felt a tug at my shirt. And then “Hey Momma! Let’s make Evelyn laugh!”
So we did. All three of us snuggled under the covers, giggling and tickling and starting the day off.
One day we will live under different roofs. One day life will take you both away from here, expose you to fantastic new ideas, tug you in exciting new directions, and these days will be forgotten. So while I soak up these moments, I find myself hoping that they are enough to build a strong foundation of love, respect, and sisterhood between the two of you. May you always delight in one another’s company. May you always appreciate making each other laugh.
May you always be the very best of friends.
You ask me every day if we can work on your letters. Yesterday we picked up the first Draw Write Now book and you ended up spending almost two hours looking at the instructions and trying to mimic the illustrations. Then you wanted my help writing snippets about each one. I love watching you learn!
Charlotte, these days you are a wonder to behold. You pick up new skills and concepts at the drop of a hat. Lately you have been experimenting with language quite a bit and suddenly our house is filled with idioms. You ask me to “check this out” and tell your father that you are “not in the mood” for something and you are forever trying to negotiate with us.
At the moment you are also very inquisitive. You ask questions all day long and I am forever reminding you that it is just as important to relish a little silence here and there as it is to seek answers. You are so busy asking questions that even meals are just a pesky interruption. Why should we eat when you could spend all of that time chewing drilling me about whether or not I’ve ever seen a lizard with green blood?
(No, by the way. No, I have not. Now let me eat my breakfast in peace, please.)
Recently you have been particularly interested in archery, something you first heard about a year ago when we started reading Robin Hood to you. More recently we showed you the movie “Brave,” and boom, all of that interest that had been brewing just ran over. Last week when we were in the garden you ran off and found a sturdy C-shaped stick. You announced that it was a bow and you immediately knew that you wanted to make it into a proper one. You asked your father to notch an arrow and tie a string connected the edges of the stick.
Every spare minute of the last several days at our house has been filled with flying arrows.
Crikeys, darling, I love you at this age. I love absolutely everything about you.
You are a very pensive, observant baby and you make me earn your smiles. Luckily I don’t mind working for them. You have six teeth now and your hair is nearly blonde. It cracks everyone up that the hair in the center of your head is a couple inches longer than the fuzz you have on the rest of your head. You have chubbed up so much that your knees have dimples. I love it!
Evie, you are a whirlwind of learning and doing right now. You crawl and scoot and cruise and chomp and giggle and explore. Your two greatest milestones of late are these: you love to pull yourself up on tables and grope around at everything you see, and you love food.
This latter interest has been particularly fascinating because your sister, well, did not. Despite all of our over-eager-first-time-parent plans and purees, Charlotte was over a year old before she began to consistently care about solid food. She choked and sputtered constantly on even the most benign dribbles of food.
You, on the other hand, gum down whole chunks of food and wave your arms about expecting more. You lunge at food, mouth agape, like a starving animal and you frequently smack your mouth and make contented sounds as you chew. If I am eating ANYTHING in your presence, you expect a bite too, thank you very much.
What an enthusiastic little eater you are, my dove. I love it!
At this stage in the game, people frequently ask about your sleeping habits. The truth is that I never know how to answer this. No, you don’t sleep through the night – but as long as I get a couple consecutive hours of sleep here I can still function. We waited a long time for you to join our family, darling. To us, you are precious and perfect and an absolute delight, no matter how little you sleep.
We never really saw you coming, Evelyn. But we are so glad that you did. You and your sister brighten our lives in ways we never could have imagined.
We love you both more than bears love honey (and everybody knows that’s an awful lot),
Momma and Daddy
She gathers the colors she wants. Sometimes a rainbow has only one color in different shades. Sometimes it has every color she can find. She picks paper - usually construction paper, but junk mail envelopes and pages from her journal and blank white drawing paper are also popular choices. Then she draws a line. Then she scribbles little blocks of each color. And when she is finished, she puts her name in the corner of the paper and scampers to the fridge to hang up her masterpiece. I never want to forget what our kitchen looks like bursting at the seams with drawings of rainbows.