July 20, 2012

“How do you want to celebrate your birthday tomorrow?” I asked her.

“Maybe swinging,” she said.  Donald built and hung a tree swing in our backyard a few months ago.  Nearly everything about toddlers is perfectly lovely – the phrases they choose to express themselves, the way their hair smells after hours spent running at the park, the pride in their eyes when they grab your cheeks and plant an impromptu kiss on your lips – but the way Charlotte beams every day when she rediscovers her tree swing tops the list in this house.

My father had the good fortune to stumble across circus tickets recently, so last weekend five of us piled in a car and drove into Los Angeles to watch the performance.

We read circus books and sang circus songs for two weeks before seeing the circus.  Charlotte was so excited on Sunday morning that she could barely stand to nap before we left.  And in every way, the circus exceeded her expectations.  The clowns!  The animals!  The elephant who could paint!  The woman who did flips while riding a horse!  The motorcycle on a tightrope!

She fell asleep within minutes of us piling back into the car and then slept all night and slept in several hours the following morning.  When she woke up, she rubbed her eyes and looked at me.  “Momma?”  I nodded.  Yeah, baby?  “Can we tell Grandma and Grandpa thank you for taking me to the circus?  It was so much fun.  Can I maybe come back there some time?”

Time together and memories built really are the best gifts.  Charlotte spent the rest of the morning making her grandparents elaborate glitter glue art to say thank you.  It took four days for the pools of glitter glue to dry.

Grandpa told her that criss-crossing her velcro would make her run faster.  I probably do not need to mention that we have not had straight-velcroed shoes since!

Sometimes she is a tempest.  She is wild and savage and angry, but there is something beautiful about her, something amazing, and even in the worst of rages I look at her and I see my baby, my darling, my star.  She is always a little magic to me.

Other times she is calm.  She is peaceful and thoughtful, compassionate and empathetic, observant and inquisitive.  I see glimpses of the woman she will become in these moments.  I can see that she has her grandmother’s adventurous spirit and her grandfather’s love of stories.  She has her father’s curiosity about the world and her mother’s fascination with language.


A few days ago, I buckled the carrier around my waist and knelt down, waited for her to climb on.

“Yes,” she announced.  “I want to be carried on your back.”

Then she approached me and thought it over.  “But then I cannot have milk,” she said thoughtfully.  “Maybe I will go in the front.”

We all laughed and I turned the carrier around and picked her up.  Away we walked, her strapped to my chest, the way she was the day of her birth, and she nestled in to suckle.

Her feet dangle so low that I can no longer grab them and tickle them while I walk.  Her arms can reach around my body and tug on my hair as it tumbles down my back.  She sometimes breaks the latch to ask a question about something we have just walked past.  She sometimes just lays her head against my breasts and tells me that I feel like love.  Still, carrying her and nursing her feels right.

And today she is three.

Today we are modeling with beeswax and making puppets to recount the tale of Poseidon and Andromeda.  We are building with Connectagons and planting sunflowers in the garden.  We are reading the songs of the flower fairies and making up tunes of our own.  We are singing songs and sharing pomegranate seeds and learning what to do with our new kefir grains.

Two was cuddles and tears.  Two was breastfeeding in silent moments.  Two was a child clinging to my back, telling passersby that she’s like a baby koala, but cuter.  Two was crazy outfits and strong opinions.  Two was stories and books, chalk and paint, scraped knees and colorful bandages.  Two was independence and dependence.

I wonder what three will be like.  I can’t wait to find out.

Still “baby"wearing - with a three-year-old and a six-month belly!

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  1. By on July 20, 2012

    joyeux anniversaire Charlotte. you are one very loved and very special little girl. XXX from alice & i !

  2. By on July 20, 2012

    Oh my, she is a miracle in crossed velcro, isn’t she, Sarah !~! Happiest Birthday to the little love and may there be many happy returns of the day. p.s. I love your six-month belly.

  3. By Amber on July 20, 2012

    Ah! So beautiful, Sarah, this made me cry! Happy birthday Charlotte!!

  4. By on July 20, 2012

    Hi Sarah, i’ve been a reader since you were pregnant with Charlotte. I was pregnant with my son Nate at the same time and enjoyed all your pregnancy posts since I was experiencing some of the same things.  I too am a southern California girl.  Happy birthday to your beautiful daughter!  I was wondering what program you used with the pictures and the words you typed on the side. I would love to create some of my own.

  5. By elizabeth Mackey on July 20, 2012

    Happy Birthday dear Charlotte, it has been so much fun watching you grow on the blog!!

  6. By on July 20, 2012

    This is what life is all about. Happiest of birthdays dear Charlotte.

  7. By Sarah Christensen on July 20, 2012

    Tricia - I used photoshop.  My photo width on here is 576 pixels, so I sized the images to 384x576 pixels, added a white margin (6 pixels wide) and then put in the writing on the solid part.

    For Charlotte’s second birthday, I used images that had alot of space (i.e. a wall in the foreground, a bathtub) to put in the writing, but I didn’t have any that were really fitting this time around, so that’s why I set it up the way I did.

  8. By on July 20, 2012

    So adorable. happy birthday to Charlotte! It’s been fun watching her grow.

  9. By on July 20, 2012

    What kind of baby carrier do you have? My daughter is 2 and getting bigger, but it would be nice to have something that we could carry her in.

    Such sweet post. I LOVE your writing!

  10. By Sarah Christensen on July 20, 2012

    Thank you, Kristin!

    I use the Ergo carrier.  Charlotte is a few inches over three feet tall and she weighs 30-31 pounds, so she’s lanky and it’s not a perfect solution, but it works well enough =)  I think at some point we’ll look into a backpack carrier too so that hikes are a little easier on us…but we’ll see.  Honestly she doesn’t spend a ton of time in the carrier anymore.

  11. By Carolina Baker on July 21, 2012

    this is HIGHLY AWESOME in every SINGLE WAY! Charlotte is going to LOVE THIS when she grows up :)

  12. By Camille on July 21, 2012

    Happy birthday to Charlotte!! My daughter weaned herself recently, shortly after she turned 3, so this post makes me so nostalgic.

  13. By Sam Piple on July 22, 2012

    How cute this baby is!! This is wonderful birthday celebration of Charlotte. I wish her good luck. Happy Birthday Dear :)

  14. By tara pollard pakosta on July 23, 2012

    awww Happy Birthday to your girl!!!
    she’s amazing!

  15. By on July 23, 2012

    Sarah, your stamina is amazing. Carrying Charlotte, yourself and the new baby while lactating sounds exhausting and you do it as if it was no big deal. Wow.

  16. By on July 24, 2012

    Belated birthday wishes to Charlotte!!
    And the photo of her on the carousel horse..she is beautiful!!

  17. By Sarah Christensen on July 24, 2012

    LOL Mitzie, you’re just lucky because you can’t hear me complaining =P

    Also, I’m relying on friends and family quite a bit to help out with Charlotte and I’m sharing most of her afternoon naps at this point =)  I never thought I’d say this, but I’m really looking forward to postpartum so that I don’t have this big belly to lug around everywhere.  I think babies are much less exhausting than pregnancy!

  18. By Jordan Marie Schilleci on August 04, 2012

    Awee.. She is growing up way to fast! I can’t believe she is already 3.  I think I found your blog a year or so back, and time has really flown! Loving all your latest stories!! A LOT!


    P.S. We’re about to hit 17 months of breast feeding! and I’m so glad to have a friend that is also nursing a toddler! ;) <3





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