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Newsletter: Month 18

photo5Dear Claire,

You are now 18 months old.  Oh yes, you are.  Your lovely Aunt Addie says the hardest part she’s found is 18 months to 3.  I’m sorry, wha?  If this month has been any indication, I kinda want to hurl myself off the cliff now, instead of waiting to see if it gets worse.  Not that I think it CAN get any worse, but you get my point.

I’m not sure if it’s the stress of the move, or the stress of Thanksgiving, or the stress of ME, but you are quite a handful these days.  You can’t believe I would have the audicity to make you wear pants, the HORROR, or that I would even consider asking you if you’d like a hotdog or turkey for lunch.  WHY WOULD I DO THAT TO YOU?!  So, until further notice, pants are optional in this house.  For me too.  Why should you have all the fun?  If this makes for interesting encounters with the FedEX man, so be it.  I’m picking my battles.

I’m staying home with you again, and in an attempt to keep busy so you don’t, you know, kill me in my sleep, we’ve been very busy.  We go to an indoor playground a lot, which you love.  What you don’t lophoto6ve is that there’s a smaller one for kids under two that I encourage you to play in.  I’m not sure how to tell you this, honey, but you ARE under two.  I like the smaller one because I don’t have to get up in there with you.  And if I don’t have to get up in there, the chances of me getting my fat ass stuck in one of the tiny crawl spaces (who do they make those things for, anyway?  KIDS?!) is reduced significantly.  Not that that has happened to me.  Or anything.  But you just don’t understand why I don’t jump at your every beck and call in that thing.  It’s because Mama is out of shape and can only take so many hours of crawling on her hands and knees through tunnels built for 8 year olds before she kinda snaps.  But you love it.  So we go.  I’m here to please you, ya know?  Plus, I think you’re kinda getting sick of the place, but we paid good money for a membership (after we had been there 4 days one week and realized that you might not be able to go to college if we keep this up), so you’re going to have to suck it up and have a good time, damnit.

These days you either make my heart fill with joy, or you make me want to rip out my overies with a dull knife to avoid having another kid.  Sometimes you do both in 10 minutes.  I’m trying here, but this is my first time parentiphoto2ng an 18 month old, so you’re going to have to work with me.  You have a funny little habit of standing with your hands clasped in front of you, just waiting until I get my shit together enough to either discipline you or just give up and hug you.  You’re getting enrolled in gymnastics and dance in January, and your lovely Aunt Addie said that the coaches teach you to stand with your hand behind your back, like little gymnasts.  You’ve got that down.

Now, let’s talk about your hair.  At this moment, it has mullet potential, but I refuse to cut it.  Your Nana wants to just trim the front so you have bangs, but I can’t do that yet.  I waited 18 months for your hair to grow, and I’m going to let it keep going.  I just got some barretts that MIGHT keep it back; the problem is that, and I am SO SORRY for this, you got your dad’s fine hair.  No clip or hair band is any match for it.  Plus you HATE IT when I put things in your hair.  I always wanted a kid who wore hats (you look so adorable in them) or liked pigtails (it’s like I’m ripping out your hair everytime I come near you with a rubber band), but you’re having none of it.  If I put something in there and distract you with something shiny or funny, sometimes I can get it to stay until you show me where your head is, or what the sign for hat is, and then you pull it back out.  And then you kill me with your eyes.

By the end of the day, I forget why I’m so frustrated with you.  Your daddy gets home, and you run over to him and pretend to love me (for his benefit, no doubt.  He thinks I overreact) and that’s nice.  Why you can’t do that all day, I’ll never know.  But I’ll never stop trying to find things that you like.  I’ll never stop taking you to the park and Gymboree, and muesums.  I’ll never stop trying to hug and kiss you in public, even though you’ve made it very clear that you can’t believe I would kiss you in public ZOMG.  You’re 18 months going on 13, honey, but I love you.  You’ve made me someone I never thought I could be, and I hope that I’m doing alright.  Not that you keep it to yourself if you think I’m not.  I love you, Claire. Happy 18 month birthday.

Love,

Mama

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Newsletter: Month 17

Dear Claire,

A few days ago, you turned 17 months old.  I didn’t write anything on Saturday because we were eyebrow deep in moving boxes and trash bags.  We move on Friday and to say that we’re behind on the packing is a the understatement of the year.  And, unfortunately, we can’t have you anywhere NEAR the boxes we just packed.  Let’s just say that you’re REALLY GOOD at unpacking, and not so good with the keeping things in the box.

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This last month has been quite a trial for me and your Daddy.  There have been so many highs and lows this month that I found myself reaching for anything stationary, lest I get thrown off along the way.  One minute you’re dancing in the living room, shaking your little booty, gettin’ jiggy wit it; and the next you’re making me feel like I should just hurl myself off the nearest cliff, just to get away for a few days while I recuperate.

It’s not that you’re BAD, you’re just pushing every button we have.  We’re so used to the easy-going, lovable baby we brought home that the minute you run away from us at the mall or defiantly touch the oven (even when I tell you NO!), we’re confused.  We don’t know how to discipline you.  I don’t know if you understand when I’m telling you not to do something.  We’re trying to avoid the word, “No” for fear that someday it won’t mean anything to you, but it’s hard to decide what qualifies for the dreaded scream of NO!  You’re figuring our who you are, and I have a feeling you’ll NEVER take shit from anyone.dsc_0239

You are quite a ham.  We knew this long ago when you would smile every time I put the camera in your face, but it’s becoming more pronounced now.  You do things because they make us laugh.  You spent 20 minutes dancing, with us, our friend Renata and your Gam all in a circle around you.  You’d shake your booty, spin in circles, shimmy your shoulders.  I had tears rolling down my face; Renata commented that her cheeks hurt because she was smiling so much.  You weren’t too happy during the silence between songs (such a child of the TiVO), and you’d look to each of us, demanding that we turn the damn music back on so you could get back to the dancing.  And, if you caught one of us laughing, you’d get this huge grin on your face.  You were just trying to make us happy.

You also took a huge auditory step this month.  One day, you were saying “GO!” every time I accelerated, a few days later, you started saying “puppy” when you saw the dogs, and “Baby” when you wanted to watch Baby Signing Time (which is, by the way, ALL THE DAMN TIME.  Seriously, kid, I’m SO SICK of Rachael and her over-acting.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept, but if you had your druthers we’d watch it over and over all day).dsc_0314

Then one day, after picking you up from daycare, I casually mentioned that we were going to see your Daddy.  And the sweetest word came from your mouth.

“Daddy.”

We practiced the whole way home, repeating that word back and forth.  And when we pulled up in the drive way and you saw him, a huge “DADDY” came tumbling out of your mouth.  He was shocked.  I was ecstatic.  And not just because we’ve been waiting for 17 months to hear that.  Also because when you’re upset or pissed or just need some lovin’ at 3am, he’s the one you call.  He can’t resist the whisper of his name.  And I just lay in bed and say, “She’s asking for you.”

I’m so happy to hear you ask for him.

I love you, honey.

Mama

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16 months

 

Dear Claire,

A few days ago, you turned 16 months old.  I’m just getting around to writing this because things have been….busy.  Very busy.  We’re moving!  Your dad got a job in Houston and we’ll be moving there at the beginning of November.  Your Grandma’s pretty upset about it, since she won’t be able to see you every weekend, but I think I talked her down.  Don’t worry, you’ll still see her.  And, you’ll get to see your Aunt Addie, Uncle Dayne and cousins more too!  In fact, your cousin Lily is very excited that we’re moving.  She said that the best part of us moving there was that if you ever need a sweater, she won’t have to drive “all the way to Austin, Tx” to give it to you.  She’s three, and she won’t be the one driving, so that’s good for your Aunt Addie too.  Lily’s also very concerned that we get a house with dogs, and no amount of arguing with her will convince her that the dogs are ours and come with us.

So there’s the move, and the election, which has been on everyone’s mind lately.  Your dad has friends over all the time, and a lot of them are *gasp* conservative so I only let them come in the garage, not all the way in the house.  And they sit out there and argue to the wee hours of the morning.  But you sleep right through it.  All that hot air warms you up, I think.

You’re getting your eye teeth early.  The doctor asked, at your 15 month appointment, if you had been hitting or biting us lately.  Your dad was concerned the doctor saw bruises, but the truth is, you haven’t been doing that.  Apparently you have a high tolerance for pain.  I tried to tell you that the other day when we were driving home and you were SCREAMING, but you weren’t listening.  Because you were SCREAMING.  I kept saying, “Claire, you’re supposed to have a high tolerance for pain.”  Then I gave you some bourbon.  No, I didn’t.  But I kinda wanted to.  For the pain.  Yeah.

You don’t like to spend time away from your dad and me, but when we come to pick you up, you act very nonchalant.  We walked in the house the other day after you SCREAMED the whole way home and as soon as you saw your Dad, you stopped crying and broke into a huge smile.  You walked up to him, but didn’t give him a hug or kiss.  Nope you stood in front of him, jabbered a little bit, and walked away.  It’s like you were announcing, “Hi.  I’m here.  I had a terrible ride home, but fear not, father of mine, I’m still cute. Kthxbai.”

 

 

You STILL aren’t talking (and now readers all across the nation [oh, who am I kidding?  All across the city] are groaning), but I’ve decided to get over it.  You hear fine, you make noises, and you know signs for just about everything you could want.  We started watching Baby Signing Time again since we got the third and forth DVDs, and it’s like everything is clicking.  You picked up the sign for “please” after one episode, and you’ve figured out that the sign for “water” is a W on your chin, not just an emphatic “Food.”  You’ll talk when you talk, and I have a feeling that I won’t be able to get you to shut up once you start.  Yesterday we were driving home from the babysitter’s and I started talking to you.  It was the only way you would sit quietly and not SCREAM.  I was pretty impressed with myself that I could talk, non-stop for the 25 minutes it took us to get home.  Then I realized that you’re due to inhearant something from me and this might be it.  I can say, “Yes, she has her father’s ears, but listen to that kid talk.  That’s all from me.”  One day, you’ll walk up to me and ask for milk, just like that, “Can I have some milk, please?” and then I’ll fall over.  So maybe don’t do that, ok?  Let’s start with just a few words.

 As usual, you’re adorable and you’re getting more so every day.  Sure, you’re a little….headstrong [read: stubborn as hell] and independent [read: defiant and ready to just push boundaries any chance you get], but that’s what makes you OUR daughter.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but your dad and I are pretty stubborn and defiant people.  We knew you would be too.  And we love it.

 I hope you keep that strong will forever.  You’re a powerful force, and someone that people should keep their eye on.  You can do anything because you don’t believe you can’t.  You push limits and push back and you’ll never be the girl who sits in the corner, worried.  But, if you are, know that your dad and I are always right behind you, getting you out of trouble (well, once.  You get one free pass to jail kid, then your on your own), and loving you so fiercely that there’s no question.  You will do great things, kid.  I just know it.

 I love you, bug.

 Mama.

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Newsletter: 15 months

Dear Claire,

Today you turn 15 months old. Blah Blah Blah, I can’t believe it, yadda yadda. You’ve become such a little PERSON this month. Your personality has really start to come out. You are independent, and starting to push boundaries. This morning, you turned your sippy cup upside down and shook it so water came spilled onto the carpet. And looked at me the whole time as if you were thinking, “What are you going to do about it?” I said your name, and you stopped and moved onto other things. But, you KNEW you weren’t supposed to do that and you did it to see what I would do. This morning, at breakfast, you snuck a piece of toast to Murphy. Normally you would just drop a piece of food over the top of the tray to him. But today, you dropped it under. And didn’t look down, acted like you weren’t doing a thing. But honey, I was standing right there. I saw it. When I said your name, you looked at me with those big blue eyes and acted like you didn’t know what you did wrong.

You’re such a happy kid. You’re getting a little shy around certain people, but those are the people I don’t mind that you’re shy around. Like your dad’s friends. If you’re never comfortable around boys, I’ll be happy. So will your dad, who already has your place at the nunnery ready for you. He claims that you’ll never date, but how could the boys resist you? You’re adorable! You still stay with your babysitter and her daughter during the day, although we think we’ll move you to a daycare soon. You love Emma, but you’ve picked up an…odd habit. As soon as your dad or I walk in the door to pick you up, you walk over to Emma (who isn’t walking yet so she’s just sitting there, minding her own business) and…pet her. You pat her head and scratch it like we taught you to do with the pups. Melissa said you don’t do that during the day, only when we pick you up. But honey, she’s not a puppy. You’re getting more and more gentle with the dogs. You pet them and then put your head down and give them big hugs. They’re not really sure what to do with that, but they like it I think.

You’re still not saying much. Wait, that’s not true. You speak in incoherent tirades all day long. We just can’t understand what you’re saying. And you LOVE to talk on the phone. Dad and I watched you the other day pace back and forth across the library, the phone up to your ear, babbling. Every once in a while, you let out this fake laugh. You’ll make an excellent party guest someday. Always something to say, ready with a fake laugh to make people feel good. I’m not sure if it’s because your tongue isn’t making the shapes needed to sound out words, but the only thing you say is “Dadadadada.” Of course, sometimes it sounds like you’re saying “DooDoDoo.” I’m a little nervous when you DO start talking because if this babbling is any indication, you’ll never shut up. It’ll be questions and comments and fake laughs all day long. Kinda makes me glad you’ll be at daycare so you can talk to other kids and not me. Because sometimes kid, I like the silence.

Recently, you’ve become very attached to me. I can’t leave the room without you following me. More often than I like, I find you sitting outside the bathroom when I come out. You make your dad sit there, and sit on his lap, looking at the door until I come out. I love the attention, I really do. But, I’d also like to poop and not worry that everyone in the house is listening.

We’re moving next month into an apartment. It’s a little scary to me; three people and two dogs in a 1000 sq. foot apartment. But, they have a pool, and you love to swim. And a dog park and a playground. I think we’ll get out of the house with the dogs more since we won’t have to put them in the car. And you LOVE taking walks. This will be a perfect place for your walks, since we don’t have to worry about cars. You love walks, but apparently you don’t love walking in leaves. Every time we come up to a pile of leaves, you won’t walk through it, you won’t walk around it. We have to pick you up and put you down on the other side.

Now I’m rambling, but I want you to know that you crack me up everyday. You have a VERY strong personality (read: you’re stubborn as hell), so it’ll be a challenge to reign that in. But, we’re getting ready for it. I love you more everyday. It’s no surprise to me that you’ve saved my life. Waking up with you every morning puts me in a good mood. And no matter how bad a day I’ve had at work, when I walk in that door and see you run towards me (and then turn around and give Emma a pat on the head), everything melts.

I love you,

Mama

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Newsletter: 14 months

Dear Claire,

A few days ago you turned 14 months old. I didn’t write anything then because I was too busy lounging on the beach spending time with you. We spent a week at the beach in North Carolina with your grandma’s sisters and brother (and all their kids and grandkids). To say you had fun would be drastically understating your love for the ocean. We could hardly keep you out of there.

This really sucked for us because the only thing you liked doing was “jumping” over the waves. Which means that your dad or I had to bend over to hold your hands, then lift you over the crashing waves. Which hurt our backs. A lot.

You loved everything about the beach. The water, even when you got a face full of it; the sand, even when it was caked in your diaper; and the people. Oh, how you loved the people. You were the only baby in a house of 16 adults who couldn’t get enough of you. And you turned on the charm. You danced, and laughed and were just a JOY to be around all week.

I know that we got an easy baby, but I never realized it until we drove 24 hours and then spent a week in a strange place with strange people…and you didn’t so much as fuss. Sure, there were a few times that you got a little cranky, but you had good reasons. No one would let you sleep; they just wanted to play with you all day. I’m pretty sure you didn’t go to bed before 10pm all week. I feel really sorry for Melissa. She’s the one who has to deal with your new found Super Celebrity Status.

You’re really starting to chit chat this month.  I’ve been nervous about you saying actual words, but the WONDERFUL mommies that commented on that post have really set my mind at ease.  If you don’t, you don’t.  If, at your 15 month appointment next month, your doctor tells us we need to do something specific, we’ll do that.  I’ve learned that there are terrible things that can happen to a kid.  Not “talking” is NOT one of those.   I think about you and my heart swells with love.  I don’t want to ever imagine life without you.  This is going to sound cliche, but you have brought so much joy to my life.

Your dad and I think that we maybe absolutly talk on our phone too much.  How do we know this?  Because you imitate us.  You put the phone to your ear and babble.  Then, you’ll laugh, all crazy like, and go back to talking.  You’ve also started pushing buttons with both thumbs.  Do we text too much?  I think so.

You’re such a girl too.  You play dress up with my necklaces and scarves.  You’ll walk around the house and wrap them around your neck and arms.  I love it; your dad?  Now so much.  He really didn’t want a “girly-girl.”  But, scarves can’t possibly be a gateway drug to Princesses, can they?  CAN THEY?!

Anyway, I love you so much.  I can’t wait to see you every morning; to see what you’ll discover and how you’ll react to your life.  I hope you enjoy my company as much as I enjoy yours.

Love,

Mama

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13 Months

 

Today you turn 13 months old.  I think I’ll probably start all of these newsletters with “Dear Claire.  Today you turn ___ months old.  I can’t effing believe it.”

Wait, maybe I shouldn’t cuss in these.  You’re going to read them someday.  How about “Dear Claire.  Today you turn ___ months old. My goodness, how time flies.”  That’s better.

 Annnnywaaaay, you’re 13 months old.  Last month we had your first birthday.  You were hilarious.  Your Aunt and Uncles, and both Grandmas and Grandpa all came in town, just for you.  Your mama even made a cake. cake And kid, you KNEW it was your birthday.  You were walking around the house with your cousins Lily and Jane following you everywhere.  It’s like you were showing off your house.  I’m pretty sure you didn’t sleep the whole weekend.  You opened presents (but you liked the ones in bags best, because of the tissue paper), you ate cake (but didn’t get too messy – until your Grandfather put your plate on your head), you were a perfect hostess (even waking up at 3am, just to make sure everyone was sleeping well).  It was awesome.

You outgrew your baby bathtub this month. bath One night you were fine in it, the next your knees were up to your ears and you were looking at me like I was crazy to put you in that little thing.  I have to admit, this whole “You In The Tub With Nothing To Keep You From Falling Except Mama’s Hands (which are always right behind you)” thing freaks me out.  Mostly because you insist on walking around the whole thing.   This may not be a big deal to anyone else, but this month we also started rinsing your hair with water from a cup, instead of just wetting our hand.  You do. Not. Like. That.  But, we’re teaching you how to look up so you don’t get as much water in your eyes.  It’s not a big deal, it just reminds me every night how fast you’re growing.

 You are having a great time with your Dad during the day.  It’s really hard to me to be away from you all day, but I’m so glad you got to spend this time with your Dad.  You wrestle, and watch Signing Time (right?) and read a lot.  It’s good for you to spend this time -just you and him, but it’s also good for him to spend this time with you.  He didn’t get to see you much when he was working and he’s going back to work in a few days, so he’ll see you even less.  But it’s so neat to see the games you two play and the inside jokes you have.  He tells me that one of your favorite games is with your sippy cups.  You place them in three different parts of the house, and throughout the day, you rotate them.  He says he never knows what color you’ll have when you come around the corner.  You walk with them hanging out of your mouth and everyone once in a while you’ll tilt the cup up and take a big swig.  Then you’ll sigh, like “Dude.  Water is gooooooood. Ahhhhhhhh.”
 

Mama and Dad are getting a lot better about your nap times and bedtime.  But, if  we’re out and you’re tired, you don’t cry.  You go…how can I put this nicely…batshit crazy.  A few nights ago we went to the store after I got home from work.  You needed some bath toys.  We pushed it a little too far, and you were tired.  But, instead of crying or fussing, you just ran around.  And jabbered. At one point, you were just running up and down an aisle.  You don’t make out words yet, but you certainly have something to say.  It’s almost as if you were telling us a very animated story.  We just couldn’t understand you.  One of these days, I’m going to get it on camera because it’s hilarious. 

away I know I’ve said this before (and get used to it, I’m going to be saying it a lot more), but I can’t believe you’re 13 months old.  I was rocking you the other night before I put you in your crib and I couldn’t believe how tall you were.  I can’t tell you what an amazing feeling it is when I walk in the door after work, and you come running towards me with a big smile on your face.  It doesn’t matter what kind of day I’ve had, seeing you excited to see me makes everything ok.  Every single day, I ask myself, “Am I doing this right?  Will she turn out ok?  How can I be better?”  But when you give me a hug, I don’t wonder anymore.  Sure, I’m always going to wonder how I can do better to help you turn out to be a good kid.  But at night, when your head is on my shoulder, and you’re holding on to my sleeve, I think “Look at how good I did. Just look at how good you are.”

 Love,

Mama

 
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Newsletter: 1 year

Dear Claire,

You are a year old. I know this sounds cliché, but I really can’t believe it. When I found out I was pregnant, I honestly didn’t think I’d get through the next month, much less a year. When you were born, I was terrified. We could barely take care of ourselves; how were we supposed to take care of this little helpless thing? I was convinced I was going to breastfeed – JR actually had to buy bottles without me knowing. But, it didn’t work. We saw 3 lactation consultants, used pumps and shields and warm compresses. But, you just wouldn’t do it. You were headstrong, even then. So we switched to bottles. Had to feed you every 2 hours. It was a challenge to just get you to eat 2 ounces. We were exhausted.

But, then? Then you started smiling. Then laughing. And then you became the happiest baby I’ve ever met, even without the book.

You rolled over. You crawled. And now you’re walking. And boy, are you walking. Even your Aunt Addie mentioned how fast you were. I can look away from you for 2 seconds, and when I look back, you’re gone. And not just in another room. Gone. Out of eyesight. Like, I have to walk around the house looking for you. And, you just started to do this funny thing where you pull your arms behind you, like you’re walking so fast, your arms are flying back. It’s hilarious.

You’ve started your teenage angst early too. Your new favorite game is to walk into a room, and close the door behind you. I can’t tell you how many times your father has “misplaced” you, only to find you in a dark room, by yourself, with the door closed.

You’re so independent now. Your father told you that you couldn’t play with something and you stuck out your bottom lip and glared at him. Glared. We couldn’t help it, we laughed. You’re totally playing me like a fiddle these days. I tell you no, and your bottom lip quivers and your face turns red and I immediately sweep you up and hug you and tell you I love you. Usually I give you whatever you wanted. Played.

I’m sure you won’t remember this time in your life, but I wanted to say I’m sorry I’m working. You dad gets to stay home with you, and play with you, and love on you all day, and I’m stuck at work. That’s all I’ll say about it. Just know that I went to work because I had to. Not because I wanted time away from you.

What else? Oh! We take you swimming a few times a week. Nothing formal yet, just me or your dad dragging you through the water. You love it. There wasn’t any option for you, really. Both your father and I love the water; you were going to have to learn how to swim sooner or later. But, now you’re practicing in the bath. You’ll put your mouth in the water, and then sit up. It’s like you’re practicing how to hold your breath.

I’m sure there’s more, but the bottom line is that everything you do is amazing to us. I was holding you the other night before you went to bed, and was struck by how big you’ve gotten. I know that you’re supposed to grow up, but could you slow it down just a bit? It’s all happening too fast.
Love,
Mama.

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